CWLA has published its transition paper for the new Administration and new Congress. The report has been circulated with key staff over the past several weeks. It reflects a look forward to improving child welfare services and more broadly strengthening families across the country.
This A Stronger Foundation for America’s Families reflects the collective wisdom, insights, and concerns of CWLA’s public and private member agencies. These agencies, small and large, provide an array of child welfare and related services to children, youth, and families in cities and communities across all 50 states. This document is based on reviewing our CWLA National Blueprint, policies, best practice guidance, and advocacy positions researched and crafted over the past several years.
At the start of this third decade, the actions of policymakers must operate now more than ever before to a rededication and commitment to focus on the disproportionate or overrepresentation of minority populations in child welfare. To do that, we must go beyond slogans and hashtags and commit dollars and actions.
We need to address primary prevention, and we need to fully develop the intervention and secondary prevention services part of the Family First Act so that these services can become a reality. We need to build more completely on the tools created in the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success law by utilizing to the maximum extent possible the use of kinship care, extended care for youth in out-of-home placements, more effective education practices, health care oversight, and better guaranteeing the rights of children and families that do come into contact with the state child welfare system.
We need to recognize foster care as a vital service to children and families. It is possible to have and espouse the important dual mission to both reducing the number of children in foster care while also increasing the availability of quality foster care. Fewer children in care mean foster families are not pressed to care for more children than they have the capacity to care for while allowing us to invest in the quality of care for the fewer children that will need it.
Importantly we recognize that “reforming” child welfare, in fact, requires a much broad perspective than just moving funds between Title IV-B, Title IV-E, CAPTA, and other specific federal funds. We must include in our strategy addressing poverty, housing (not just shortages but housing patterns based on race), equitable access to behavioral health—especially substance use treatment, and strategies to help families including home visiting, family and medical leave, and much more child care, to name a few. Underlying it all, addressing the historical, existing, and ongoing impact of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, and Native American status.
The paper includes short- and long-term recommendations across eight key areas with short-term recommendations addressing matters to be addressed quickly by changes in federal policy, guidance, or regulation. The long-term recommendations will require greater effort, and, in all likelihood, legislation worked out cooperatively between the new Administration and the
117th Congress. The eight global areas of child welfare we address:
- Equality & Inclusion: Racism, Disproportionality, Discrimination
- Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect
- Strengthening Families and Children Through Secondary Prevention and Intervention Services
- Permanency for Children and Families Through Foster Care Reunification, Kinship Care, and Adoption
- Helping Young People
- The Fundamental Building Blocks of a Successful System for Children and Families: Workforce
- The Health of Children and Families
- Immigration Issues