Category Archives: Featured

Upcoming Webinar: Court-Based Child Welfare Reforms: Improved Child/Family Outcomes and Potential Cost Savings

Dear Colleagues,

We wanted to follow up with the release of “Court-Based Child Welfare Reforms: Improved Child/Family Outcomes and Potential Cost Savings,” to let you know that SPARC and the ABA Center on Children and the Law will be co-hosting a webinar on Thursday, September 5, 2012 from 3:00-4:00pm EST to accompany this brief.

The speakers will include:

Judge Erica Yew, Judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court, Santa Clara, CA

Anne Marie Lancour, Director of State Projects, ABA Center on Children and the Law

Joanne Moore, Director, Washington State Office of Public Defense

Authored by Liz Thornton, Staff Attorney for the ABA Center on Children and the Law, “Court-Based Child Welfare Reforms: Improved Child/Family Outcomes and Potential Cost Savings,” focuses on ways that court-based child welfare reforms can have an impact on child welfare outcomes and costs.

Most children placed in foster care will have contact with the state child welfare court system. These courts play a key role in ensuring children’s safety, timely permanency, and well-being. Prompt and thoughtful court decisions have a large impact on children in foster care. Courts serve as a check and balance on the child welfare agency’s decisions and can be a problem-solving resource for families.

The brief describes court-based child welfare reforms that result in improved outcomes for children and families, and potential state/local agency cost savings. Additionally, the brief discusses promising practices, such as reforms that have yet to be formally evaluated with respect to improved outcomes and cost-savings, but show promise based on initial data and anecdotal evidence.

The brief can be accessed here.

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New Policy Brief: Court-Based Child Welfare Reforms: Improved Child/Family Outcomes and Potential Cost Savings

We’re pleased to share with you the third in a series of upcoming policy briefs, “Court-Based Child Welfare Reforms: Improved Child/Family Outcomes and Potential Cost Savings,” co-released by SPARC and the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law. Authored by Liz Thornton, Staff Attorney for the ABA Center on Children and the Law, the brief focuses on ways that court-based child welfare reforms can have an impact on child welfare outcomes and costs.

Most children placed in foster care will have contact with the state child welfare court system. These courts play a key role in ensuring children’s safety, timely permanency, and well-being. Prompt and thoughtful court decisions have a large impact on children in foster care. Courts serve as a check and balance on the child welfare agency’s decisions and can be a problem-solving resource for families. 

The brief describes court-based child welfare reforms that result in improved outcomes for children and families, and potential state/local agency cost savings. Additionally, the brief discusses promising practices, such as reforms that have yet to be formally evaluated with respect to improved outcomes and cost-savings, but show promise based on initial data and anecdotal evidence.

The brief can be downloaded here.

 

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Filed under Featured, Legal Represenatation and Court Processes, Tools for Advocates

Op-Ed by Children First for Oregon

SPARC and Children First for Oregon worked on composing this op-ed in response to a column blaming the Department of Human Services’ Office of Child Welfare Programs for recent child deaths in Oregon. It was placed in the Oregonian on Saturday, June 30th, 2012 and can be found here.

Preventing Child Abuse: We Know How, But Why Don’t We?

by: Robin Christian

During the past several weeks and months, local headlines have delivered us a steady stream of horror stories: child after child, burned and broken, molested and murdered. Jeanette Maples, Mahonarye Noa, a little boy known only in court documents as “R.H.” and numerous others whose names we don’t know. All Oregon children, abused — sometimes to death — by their parents and foster parents.

As one of the organizations in the state advocating for the needs of children, we read these headlines with a particular sense of sadness and outrage. Quite simply, we know how to make kids safer. Year after year, we take this message to the halls of the Capitol. Too many times, we are told that there is no room in the budget for the programs and services that strengthen families and save children’s lives.

The state Department of Human Services’ Office of Child Welfare Programs is currently operating with a staff equal to 67 percent of the workforce needed to meet minimum standards. That’s minimum standards. And as a state, we continue to accept two-thirds of the bare minimum while the newspapers bring us more stories of tortured children and their lonely deaths. We know that face-to-face contact between child welfare caseworkers and families is key to keeping kids safe, but mounting caseloads and dwindling staffing levels make this crucial face-to-face contact less and less likely. We collectively shake our fist at DHS for its failures, and then we turn around and allow our representatives to whittle away at the very program charged with protecting vulnerable children.

But when we commit funding to our child welfare agency and to the services that can bring struggling families back from the brink, those investments pay off. In 2007, the Legislature invested $10 million in alcohol and drug treatment for parents whose children were at risk of being removed from their care. The result? Fewer children entered the child welfare system to begin with. By 2010, the percentage of children removed from their homes because of drugs and alcohol had already decreased by 16 percent. This modest investment made a big difference for kids.

When tragedy strikes, it’s easy to point fingers. It’s satisfying to rage about bureaucratic incompetence. It’s sometimes politically advantageous to look for blame on the other side of the aisle. Meanwhile, Oregon’s most vulnerable kids pay the price.

Yes, Oregon faces a tight state budget. But tough times are the most important times to protect children. We know what to do to keep kids safe, yet that is not where our state makes its investments or sets its priorities. As we move into another election, it is our shared responsibility to make sure political excuses don’t cost the life of another child. And unless we’ve challenged our representatives in Salem to make ending child abuse and neglect their top priority — unless we’ve cast our ballots based on their degree of commitment to that cause — we haven’t satisfied the bare minimum, either.

Robin Christian is the executive director of Children First for Oregon. 

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New Child Trends Report: Federal, State, and Local Spending to Address Child Abuse and Neglect in 2008 and 2010

A new Child Trends report, Federal, State, and Local Spending to Address Child Abuse and Neglect in SFYs 2008 and 2010, summarizes key findings from a national survey of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, regarding state child welfare expenditures in state fiscal years (SFYs) 2008 and 2010 – the most recent years for which data are available.  The survey tracked the use of federal, state and local funds to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families and provides an important snapshot of national and state-by-state approaches to funding child welfare services.  The survey was sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs.   For a copy of the full report, please see the Child Trends website here.

To view state-by-state findings, download tables, and compare findings by state, please see the State Child Welfare Policy Database at www.childwelfarepolicy.org.

 

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Child Welfare Funding Opportunities: Title IV-E and Medicaid

View This Resource

Child Welfare SPARC releases an informative and timely policy brief provides new insight into how Title IV-E and Medicaid can be better utilized to improve services and supports for children and families in the child welfare system.

First Focus also sponsored a webinar offering advocates an opportunity to talk with author Carl Valentine about this important issue.

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