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Frontline Child Welfare Workers Need Voice in Finance Reform Says CWLA; Survey to Help Ensure They are Heard

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Shawn Flaherty
Creative Strategies PR

WASHINGTON, DC - As discussions continue on Capitol Hill about reforming federal refinancing of the child welfare system, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), the nation's oldest and largest membership-based organization serving vulnerable children, has launched an initiative to ensure that the debate includes the voices of frontline workers. In the coming weeks, CWLA will be surveying child welfare professionals including frontline workers who provide direct care to children, and will summarize results and recommendations in a white paper for policymakers.

"For changes of this significance, it's vital to get on-the-ground feedback about the workings and shortcomings of the system. Change and reform that impacts millions of children needs to be based on sound information. Since frontline workers have a unique perspective, we're committed to ensuring that their voices are heard," said Christine James-Brown, CEO, CWLA.

The House and Senate are expected to consider child welfare finance reform early in the 112th Congress. Reform is needed to put a greater emphasis on prevention and to ensure that children being served in foster care and kinship care have access to support provided by Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, which was created to address this need. Since 1996 eligibility for IV-E has been tied to a program that no longer exists, Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Changes to the Title IV-E language are needed to correct the discrepancies created by being tied to this outdated program and to open up IV-E to prevention strategies.

In response, CWLA is putting together a white paper on child welfare for members of Congress and their staff. As part of this initiative, CWLA is seeking the perspective of frontline workers and supervisors. Child welfare professionals are experts on the strengths and weaknesses of the service delivery system at the point it reaches vulnerable children and families or fails to support them. Their firsthand input on the inner workings of the child welfare system--including family support, family reunification, foster care, kinship care, and adoption--will help inform the CWLA position.

To get feedback, CWLA is conducting a series of conference calls in the coming weeks with small groups of child welfare workers from across the country. This group survey will capture the expertise of frontline workers and supervisors who direct the process of furthering children's safety and well-being. The survey will assess the subjective sense of workers on the state of the child welfare system.

The format will include survey questions and a discussion that is completed through conference call and webinar technology. The survey format is designed to help more child welfare workers participate since it takes into account child welfare workers' demanding schedules. Survey findings are expected to be completed by mid-February. The findings and the white paper will be sent to Congress and posted to the CWLA website.

About CWLA
CWLA is a powerful coalition of hundreds of private and public agencies serving vulnerable children and families since 1920. Through its programs, publications, research, conferences, professional development, and consultation, CWLA speaks with authority and candor about the status and the needs of American children, young people, and families. As the nationally recognized standard-setter for child welfare services, CWLA provides direct support to agencies that serve children and families, improving the quality of the services they provide to more than nine million children every year.

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