Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)

CWLA_Logo3.jpgThe Child Welfare League of America leads the nation in building public will to ensure the safety, permanence, and well-being for children, youth and families by advocating for the advancement of public policy, setting and promoting standards for best practice and delivering superior membership services.

Ten Years of Leaving Foster Children Behind

A Decade of Leaving Children in Foster Care Behind

July 16 marks the 10-year anniversary of the decision by Congress to tie eligibility for Title IV-E federal foster care  assistance to Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the former cash-assistance program. The decision was flawed from the start and, over the years, the negative consequences have only increased, resulting in a stunning decline of federal support and growing abandonment by our government for vulnerable children.

 

Child Welfare Consent Decrees: Analysis of Thirty-Five Court Actions from 1995 to 2005

Over the past ten years alone, there has been child welfare class action litigation in 32 states, with consent decrees or settlement agreements in 30 of these.2 These lawsuits have often resulted in settlement agreements that become “consent decrees” upon approval by the court. Once approved by the court, the consent decree acts as a contract, binding the child welfare agency and the attorneys acting on behalf of the “plaintiff” class members to its terms, and it is fully enforceable by the court.3 The substance of the consent decree describes specific actions defendants must take to resolve the identified problems, and the plaintiffs’ responsibilities to ensure the provisions in the decree are implemented.

The Need for Reform 11 Years Later

Many Americans, whether they are policymakers, opinion makers or part of the general public, would be surprised to know that less than half the children who are in foster care are eligible for federal foster care support. But that is the case in 2007. In fact fewer children in care today are covered by federal support than were covered in 1996. Perhaps more significantly this transfer away from the federal government to state and local programs puts a strain on the entire joint federal-state funding structure of child welfare.

Child Abuse and Neglect

The term child abuse refers to the act of physically, psychologically or sexually harming a child under the age of 18. Neglect refers to inadequately meeting a child’s needs. This includes a failure to provide needed, age-appropriate care although financially able to do so or offered the financial means to do so.

Transracial Adoption and the Multiethnic Placement Act

Children of color have a longer length of time in out-of home care and a longer length of time from termination of parental rights to adoption. The Multiethnic Placement Act and Interethnic Placement Act, passed in 1994 and 1996 respectively, were passed in order to prevent children from languishing in out-of-home care while foster or adoptive parents of the same race were found. This has given rise to ongoing analysis of the prevalence and affects of transracial placements and adoption.

Can States Be Compared Based on Child Welfare Data?

State and county agencies run the nation’s child welfare systems, providing a wide range of services including child protection, family preservation and support services, foster care, adoption, and often juvenile justice and mental health services. Over the last fifteen years the child welfare field has seen a significant growth in the availability and use of data to help understand and administer child welfare programs.