Since the release of When Child Welfare Works: A Working Paper, many organizations and individuals have weighed in with significant feedback on comprehensive child welfare reform. In the spirit of continuing a public dialogue about how to better align federal child welfare financing with best practice, this document presents the collective feedback on the recommendations made so policymakers and other stakeholders can benefit from the many thoughtful questions, comments and suggestions. Staff and consultants from Casey then, to the best of our ability, respond with our answers, perspectives or follow-up questions.
This is complex work, and while we may be most worried about particular challenges and potential unintended consequences, other stakeholders are more concerned about the kids and consequences. This is to be expected and is part of any robust national dialogue. We look forward to ongoing discussions about how to better target federal child welfare funds and will continue to use formats such as this document to share stakeholder feedback and our evolving perspective at Casey to help advance comprehensive child welfare financing reform.
The time is now to develop a plan for reforming federal financing.
Findings & Stats
Support for reforming federal financing
Congressional leaders who have championed previous reform efforts are signaling that the time has come for comprehensive reform, and increasingly policy conversations are focused on how to achieve broad reform within the current political and economic environment. Despite widespread agreement that the child welfare system suffers from insufficient investment, we believe there is a growing consensus that comprehensive reform will entail making better use of existing federal funds.
Children’s best interests
Many stakeholder who agree with the proposal’s goals of limiting long-term foster care and non-family placements also worry about the small number of children whose best interests may be served by longer stays in care or in residential treatment. While the proposal seeks to encourage investments at the system-level, some are fearful that an unintended consequence is that decisions about children’s placement with be made based on fiscal considerations rather than the children’s best interests.
Investing in families, child welfare workers
Feedback to our proposal indicates widespread agreement that investments in quality family-based foster care and the child welfare workforce are critical to achieving better outcomes for children and families. Stakeholders have noted that the number of children in long-term foster care and the frequency of group home placements reflect the insufficient foster parent capacity and overwhelmed workforce in many communities.
While the proposal seeks to encourage investments at the system-level, some are fearful that an unintended consequence is that decisions about children’s placement will be made based on fiscal considerations rather than children’s best interests.
Statements & Quotations
The results of our discussions lead us to believe that there is common cause around policy changes that achieve the dual goal of meeting the therapeutic needs of children in families whenever possible, while protecting and increasing the capacity of short-term residential treatment.
We’ve seen firsthand that when agencies invest sufficient time and resources to recruit and support resource families (including emergency foster parents and kin), they see a dramatic decline in their use of group placements.
It is critical to understand that this and other recommendations are not intended to influence decisions made on individual cases, but rather influence state child welfare systems to alter their investments in ways that will lead to better overall outcomes.