by Elizabeth Gibbons

Ideas from Experts
The Chronicle of Social Change, an independent publication focused on child welfare and social policy, has compiled a series of articles highlighting new policy recommendations made by participants in the Foster Youth Internship Program.

There have been three articles so far. The first article aims to improve placement stability to ensure education stability and achievement. This proposal includes federal investments to increase the availability of evidence-based foster parent training, peer support networks, and local recruitment to keep children in their communities. The second article focuses on keeping sibling groups together, with the siblings’ consent. The proposal calls for a National Sibling Bill of Rights, suggests competitive grants to specialize foster care programs aimed at large sibling groups, and demands that the Department of Health and Human Services finalize written data requirements on sibling placement. The third article seeks federal action to ensure that states recruit those who identify as LGBTQ to become foster and adoptive parents, and to develop programs to serve youth in foster care who are LGBTQ.

Migrant Children
A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to stop administering psychotropic medication to migrant children without permission from the child’s parents/guardians or a court order. The drugs were being administered in a Texas facility, from which the same judge has ordered the children be removed. The facility’s staff have claimed that they only administered the drugs on emergency basis, but children have testified that they were given drugs “every morning and every night.” The facility denies any wrongdoing.

The Indiana Department of Child Services was reviewed five times between 2013 and 2017, costing the state $1.3 million but yielding limited results–as detailed last month in a report by the Alabama-based Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group. The studies focused on training, organizational structure and support, and how and why the state removes children from their families. Recommendations have been made. The reports have prompted legislators to voice their disapproval of Indiana’s inaction and call for reforms.

Officials in Nebraska are seeking professional advice on new methods for helping children who are entering the foster care and child welfare systems—especially in situations that involve family substance abuse. Implementing solutions in rural areas that lack basic treatment services, however, has been a difficult task. Nebraska has already put in place reforms such as hiring more case workers, thus reducing caseloads, and working to decrease the number of children who are removed from their homes. Even amid a growing focus on evidence-based assessments to help caseworkers determine whether children can safely remain in their home, and on new programs centered on recovery and rehab for adults facing drug addiction, isolated communities continue to experience a shortage of therapists and substance abuse professionals.

New York
A recent panel discussion held at the New School focused on the use of data-driven, predictive analytics in investigating claims of child abuse and neglect. New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services has cautiously implemented this method, and hopes to use it to address deeply rooted problems with child welfare—such as the disproportionate rate at which children of color are removed from their families. Conversely, opponents argue that predictive analysis will only worsen institutional problems that adversely affect people of color and those experiencing poverty.

Predictive analytics evaluate child welfare programs and policies that are already in place, and include an array of data about past cases and cases currently being investigated. The model determines the probability of harm befalling a child and can be used to make decisions about individual cases—such as the decision to remove a child from their family.

Elizabeth Gibbons is CWLA’s editorial intern. She can be reached at