On Tuesday, January 27, Capitol Hill was the scene of a briefing and a report-release by the Children’s Advocacy Institute and First Star that leveled heavy criticism of federal oversight of the nation’s child welfare services. The report, Shame On U.S , details an examination of the federal government and its oversight of the nation’s child welfare and child protective services laws.  The review was highly critical of all three branches for their failure to enforce current child welfare laws, those created under Title IV-E and Title IV-B of the Social Security Act and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).  The report includes an examination of all 50 states but its main focus is on HHS, the Congress and the courts.  The organizations argue that oversight by HHS has been weak and that there has been an unwillingness to enforce current law and unwillingness to enforce the department’s authority to penalize a state if they fail to meet requirements under the three sections of the law.

The report includes 37 recommendations for executive action, congressional action and action by the judiciary. In terms of legislation Robert Fellmeth, the Children’s Advocacy Institute, highlighted a proposal currently under consideration in the state of California to establish trust funds for use by young people who leave care.  He also proposed that there should be a cross-tie between all federal child welfare funding and all federal requirements, namely tie the child protection requirements under CAPTA to the bulk of federal funding found in Titles IV-E and IV-B.   He also called for the elimination of the current eligibility standards that tie federal foster care funding to the 1996 AFDC (the previous cash assistance welfare program) eligibility standards. Speakers highlighted deficiencies found through the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs), a federal review system of state programs. While there were directives for legislative action and criticisms of the judicial oversight, the bulk of the report and briefing focused on HHS and their enforcement practices.