WE CAN HELP YOU FOR FREE
NCSL can help you develop ways to improve your state’s child welfare system and to safely reduce the number of children in foster care through:
- Onsite presentations, informal briefings and testimony before committees and hearings,
- Written research and analysis, or
- Informal telephone conference calls with child welfare administrators, legislators and legislative staff in other states to discuss their experiences with child welfare reform.
Questions? Contact Nina Williams-Mbengue at 303.856.1559. For questions about the newsletter, contact Kelly Crane at 303.856.1372.
STATE LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS TO SAFELY REDUCE THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE
States are working to safely reduce the number of children in foster care by reducing the number of children that enter into state care and increasing the placement of children who have been in foster care for long periods into permanent homes. One example of a strategy that states are using to reduce the number of children who enter foster care is the Family Resource Center.
Family Resource Centers
Family Resource Centers coordinate health, education, employment and other services to keep children out of foster care. Below are examples from states that have used these supports to children and families.
- Kentucky uses family resource centers to coordinate the available community resources throughout the Louisville area. Through community partnerships, Louisville agencies and residents have developed plans that align different government agencie with neighborhood residents. To view the enabling legislation, click here. To learn more about Kentucky’s Family Resource Centers, click here.
- North Carolina enacted legislation that updates the laws pertaining to the Family Resource Center Grant Program to ensure that grants are provided to community-based agencies for programs that are based on research and have been evaluated for their effectiveness. To view the legislation enacted in 2007, click here.
- West Virginia enacted legislation that establishes family resource networks as local community organizations charged with coordinating services, assessing the needs and available resources, planning ways to involve the community and setting up an evaluation. Click here to view the enabling legislation, 2007 W. Va. Acts, SB2007, Act. 9, Sec. 49-6C-2.
State Progress in the Safe Reduction of Children in Foster Care
Click here to read an article from the Washington Post highlighting the reduction in the number of children in foster care in the United States.
FOSTERING CONNECTIONS TO SUCCESS
President Bush signed into law the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (H.R. 6893/P.L. 110-351) on Oct. 7, 2008. This law helps connect foster children with their relatives, improve the health care and education of foster children, support permanent families through relative guardianship, and enhance adoption subsidies and supports to older youth in foster care.
Legislative Highlights: Sibling Placements
The sibling placement provision of the Fostering Connections Act requires that states make a “reasonable effort” to place siblings in the same foster care, kinship guardianship, or adoptive placement, as long as such a joint placement or continued interaction would not be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings. Examples of 2010 introduced state legislation related to the sibling placement provision of the federal act include:
- Pennsylvania HB 2258: This pending bill would require reasonable efforts be made to place a child in foster care with any siblings, if appropriate. If siblings are in a different placement setting, the court shall enter an order to ensure visitation between the siblings occurs no less than twice a month, if appropriate.
- Georgia HB 1085: This enacted legislation determines that siblings removed from their home shall be placed in the same foster care, kinship, guardianship, or adoptive placement, unless the Division of Family and Children Services documents that such a joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings.
Click here for information on Fostering Connections related bills that have been introduced in 2010.
Click here for information on Fostering Connections related legislation that was enacted in 2009.
CHILD WELFARE FINANCING
As states continue to experience declines in their revenue sources, they are looking to creative fiscal strategies to help in providing critical services to the public, such as child welfare services. An example of a child welfare financing strategy developed in Iowa is detailed below.
De-Categorization of Federal Child Welfare Funding
Iowa 1993 legislation authorized a financing strategy that “de-categorized” the state’s categorical child welfare funding by redirecting funds to services based on client needs. To see the enabling legislation, click here. This initiative was designed to redirect child welfare and juvenile justice funding to services which are more preventive, family-centered, and community-based in order to reduce restrictive funding approaches that rely on institutional, out-of home, and out-of-community care. Click here to learn more and view a webcast, held by the NGA Center for Best Practices, in which Wendy Rickman, Division Administrator for the Iowa Department of Human Services, summarizes this initiative. For more information on Iowa’s De-Categorization Initiative, click here.
NCSL TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
The Technical Assistance to State Legislators on the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) project component, funded by the Children’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, can help state child welfare agencies in their efforts to engage lawmakers in the CFSRs and long-term child welfare reform efforts. Examples of technical assistance include:
- Providing training to state legislators and legislative staff on the CFSR process;
- Preparing briefings for new state legislators that describe how the state child welfare system and CFSRs work (“Child Welfare 101”); or
- Disseminating publications that educate legislators and legislative staff about the CFSRs and child welfare reform and that provide information to state agencies about how to improve working relationships with state legislators. A full list of these reports is available by clicking here.
If you are interested in arranging technical assistance, please contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCSL CHILD WELFARE PUBLICATIONS