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July 9, 2003

Call for Input on Financing of Child Welfare!

In recent days, I have sent you a great deal of information regarding the current debate in Washington over child welfare financing, and, in particular, the foster care system. Included in this information was a description of a new bipartisan commission recently established. Its mission is to focus on policy recommendations to improve the federal financing of foster care and court oversight of child welfare cases. The commission provides all of us concerned about the child welfare system the opportunity to advocate for significant reform beyond the sometimes restricted debate that can take place in Congress.

The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care is asking for input on improvements to the child welfare system as it develops its policy recommendations to Congress on improving the federal financing of foster care and court oversight of child welfare cases. The Commission is an independent, non-partisan group established to consider a broad array of options to improve the child welfare system. The input of CWLA's membership is critical to ensure that any proposal to improve existing federal financing mechanisms and services in the foster care system are done with the children's safety, permanence, and well-being as priorities. All comments and submissions must be received by AUGUST 1, 2003.

The Commission is interested in accepting comments and policy options, including, but not limited to:
  • Descriptions of promising initiatives, pilot projects, or models of practice that have been implemented by a local, state, or community-based agency or court.

  • Research, data, or other evidenced-based information demonstrating the effectiveness of particular policy options.

  • Descriptions of specific problems and suggested solutions to "fix" them, including examples where they have been successfully implemented.

  • Descriptions of initiatives that have not worked, with some discussion about why they did not work.

  • Descriptions of innovative approaches that have yet to be tried, but which would address some of the financing or court-related challenges in the child welfare system.
The Commission views the "call for input" as the best way to hear from a wide range of perspectives, and we agree. As we encourage members to submit their own comments and input, CWLA will also submit comments that reflect on the CWLA's key principles:
  • Preserve the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance entitlements to ensure a continued federal role in supporting abused and neglected children.

  • Ensure that all abused and neglected children are eligible for foster care and adoption assistance by eliminating the Title IV-E current financial eligibility requirements tied to outdated 1996 Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) standards.

  • Provide federal support for the full range of services necessary to prevent child abuse and neglect, increase services to promote safety and permanence for children, and assist families struggling with problems such as substance abuse.

  • Provide incentives to states to increase and support a well-trained workforce prepared to deliver quality services and achieve successful outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system. Provide student loan forgiveness for those who become child welfare workers.

  • Increase funding for the Social Services Block Grant, which states use to provide services to children and youth, including adoption, foster care, child protection, independent living, and residential services.
In addition to these issues, the Child Welfare League of America has always supported efforts to improve our court systems through the efforts of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges' Model Court Initiative. This has involved a call for additional funding for court services, development of court infrastructure, including information systems, and replication of best practices.

This Commission is to be commended for taking on this task of providing Congress and the Administration its best recommendations for reforming the current federal child welfare system. In addition to financing improvements, we will ask the Commission to examine ways to implement needed improvements in services, workforce, and training.



To submit input to the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, please send electronically as a Word document, by August 1, 2003, to: If you are unable to submit electronically, you may fax to 202-687-4805, or mail to Attention: Input, The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care, 2233 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Suite 535, Washington, DC, 20007. Please include contact information (name, phone number and email address) on the first page of your document.


  1. Provide input to the Commission on ways to improve the way the federal government funds child welfare, as well as recommendations to improve court oversight of child welfare cases. Express the need to address a comprehensive reform of the federal, state, local, and tribal child welfare financing partnership so that America's children across each state in the nation can be ensured consistent levels of safety, protection, and care.

  2. Urge the Commission to OPPOSE any proposal that would convert foster care funding into a block grant and eliminate the federal guarantee of entitlement funding.


For additional information on the request for input, visit the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care website. For CWLA background materials, visit the 'Financing Child Welfare Services' section of CWLA's website.

Any questions? Please contact Liz Meitner, CWLA Vice President of Government Affairs, at or 202-942-0257.

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