Child Welfare League of America Making Children a National Priority


Child Welfare League of America Making Children a National Priority
About Us
Special Initiatives
News and Media Center
Research and Data
Conferences and Training
Culture and Diversity
Support CWLA
CWLA Members Only Content

Home > Advocacy > CWLA 2009 Children's Legislative Agenda > Introduction


CWLA 2009 Children's Legislative Agenda


© Child Welfare League of America. The content of these publications may not be reproduced in any way, including posting on the Internet, without the permission of CWLA. For permission to use material from CWLA's website or publications, contact us using our website assistance form.

CWLA is pleased to submit Hope for America's Children, Youth, and Families to President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress. During this transition for a new president and Congress, CWLA offers policymakers a vision and recommendations that address both legislative and administrative efforts to improve child welfare services and, ultimately, advance the well-being of the country's most vulnerable families and children. As the nation enters a new era, we believe Americans have the creativity, expertise, and perseverance to address the challenges these families face so all children and youth reach their ultimate potential and achieve the great American dream.

Hope for America's Children, Youth, and Families reflects the collective wisdom, insights, and concerns of CWLA's public and private member agencies gathered over the past half year. These agencies, small and large, provide an array of child welfare and related services to vulnerable children, youth, and families in cities and communities across all 50 states. This document is also based on a review of our policies, best practice guidance, and advocacy positions researched and crafted over the past several years. Although this document is based on our cumulative knowledge and work over the past half of 2008, clearly much has changed in our country during this time period.

In fall 2008, Congress enacted the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act, P.L. 110-351). This legislation is the most significant federal child welfare legislation enacted in at least a decade--if not since the creation of Title IV-E foster care and adoption assistance in 1980. This bill, when fully phased in, will have a significant impact on outcomes for children in foster care and specialneeds adoptions across the country. It begins the critical task of focusing on the disproportionate overrepresentation of some minority populations in child welfare by providing federal funding to some kinship families and by allowing direct access to tribal governments-and, by extension, to children in Indian country. It also holds the promise of improving education and health care access for children in care and moving this nation, at least in some small way, toward a sounder workforce development policy in the area of child welfare.

The Fostering Connections Act offers opportunity, but the economic crisis threatens the ability of state and local agencies, both public and private, to take advantage of these opportunities. Many if not all states are considering significant budget cuts. In the coming weeks, assessing how human services can be protected from budget cuts, at the very time when human need will increase, will be critical. This will almost certainly extend to the challenge of child abuse and neglect. Also critical will be implementing and regulating the Fostering Connections to Success Act in a way that recognizes this dynamic. The economy will challenge state and local agencies in many different ways; we must shape federal policy over the next year in a way that takes this into account.

Despite these challenges, we offer this document as a detailed blueprint that, carried out over both the short and long term, can create a strong vision for this country's most vulnerable children and families--and all of America's families. CWLA envisions a future in which families, communities, organizations, and governments ensure all children and youth benefit from the resources they need to grow into healthy, contributing members of society. Child welfare services must be available to families whenever concerns arise about the safety and well-being of children. A network of community-based, family-centered organizations, whose mission is to support and stabilize children, youth, and families, with appropriate sensitivity to family culture, will provide these services.

CWLA's ultimate goal is to achieve better outcomes for the children and families who encounter the child welfare system by
  • preventing abuse and neglect;
  • providing heath and mental health services to address the impact of harm;
  • preventing unnecessary separation of children from their homes;
  • sustaining permanent placements that are made;
  • minimizing how long children remain in foster care, should placement be necessary; and
  • ensuring no disproportionate effect on children or families of any culture.
CWLA's model embraces the principle that families must be at the center of services that prevent and remedy situations that lead to child abuse and neglect. The full spectrum of services for children and families must be involved, from the first awareness a family is at risk, to early intervention, to foster care for those children whose safety and well-being is threatened, through permanency and the services necessary to sustain permanency. Ensuring quality casework practice, according to national child welfare standards, requires a professional workforce. Recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining qualified, culturally diverse and competent, effective, and dedicated professionals is essential to this effort.

In this transition paper, we offer short- and long-term recommendations across five key areas. The short-term recommendations address matters to be addressed quickly by changes in federal policy, guidance, or regulation. Many of these short-term proposals relate to the new Fostering Connections Act and how it is implemented and regulated. The long-term recommendations may require greater effort and, in all likelihood, legislation to be worked out cooperatively between the new Administration and the 111th Congress.

We address five key areas of child welfare:
  • preventing child abuse and neglect;

  • achieving permanency for children and families through reunification, adoption, and kinship care;

  • increasing access to health care, including mental health and substance abuse services for children and families in care;

  • helping vulnerable young people in both foster care and juvenile justice; and

  • strengthening the building blocks of the system, which includes such issues such as workforce, data collection, immigration, and cultural competence.
We continue to strongly urge that all recognize the reinstitution of the decentennial White House Conference on Children and Youth as an essential tool to carry out all of these reforms, as well as a way to engage communities and key local stakeholders, which, ultimately, is the only way we can address any of these challenges.

 Back to Top   Printer-friendly Page Printer-friendly Page   Contact Us Contact Us




About Us | Special Initiatives | Advocacy | Membership | News & Media Center | Practice Areas | Support CWLA
Research/Data | Publications | Webstore | Conferences/Training | Culture/Diversity | Consultation/Training

All Content and Images Copyright Child Welfare League of America. All Rights Reserved.
See also Legal Information, Privacy Policy, Browser Compatibility Statement

CWLA is committed to providing equal employment opportunities and access for all individuals.
No employee, applicant for employment, or member of the public shall be discriminated against
on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or
any other personal characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law.