This month’s issue looks at the midterm legislative races and statewide ballot measures, the role of primaries, the value of art in school, perspective from two of the nation's top pollsters and much more.
The Child Welfare Legislative Policy Network Newsletter is a monthly publication of NCSL's Child Welfare Project. Each issue features the most recent reports and resources regarding child welfare in the states and nationally. This issue covers topics such as mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect, individual development accounts for foster youth, extending foster care beyond age 18 and well-being in child welfare, in addition to offering links to further NCSL resources related to child welfare and upcoming NCSL events.
NCSL's Child Welfare Project can help state child welfare systems develop ways to safely reduce the number of children in foster care. We can make presentations, informal briefings and testify before committees and hearings; offer written research and analyses; or conduct informal conference calls with state child welfare administrators, legislators and legislative staff in other states to discuss their experiences with child welfare reform.
For questions about this newsletter or to be added to our distribution list, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
From June 30-July 2, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Casey Family Programs will host a meeting of the Three Branch Institute in Milwaukee, Wisc. The Institute is a partnership of the judicial, executive and legislative branches of seven states. This annual two-and-a-half day meeting gives members of the Three Branch Institute an opportunity to interact with national experts, foster youth, state administrators and colleagues in other states to develop detailed strategic plans, exchange ideas and discuss barriers and potential solutions to improving the well-being of children in foster care.
For more information about the Three Branch Institute, click HERE.
NCSL will host the 2014 Legislative Summit in Minneapolis, Minn., Aug. 19-22. The Legislative Summit is the nation's largest gathering of legislators and legislative staff. Included in the lineup of great workshops is an issue forum entitled “Keeping the American Dream Alive.” The session will focus on how states are using research on the effects of poverty to shape programs and public-private partnerships to tackle this complex problem and ensure every American has the opportunity to succeed. In addition, the general session, “Building a Safe Harbor for Trafficking Victims,” will feature efforts to protect children sold into sexual trafficking.
For more information about NCSL's 2014 Legislative Summit, visit the Summit Homepage or CLICK TO REGISTER.
Reporting suspected child abuse and neglect was the subject of nearly 200 bills in approximately 37 states and the District of Columbia in the 2014 legislative session. About 48 have been enacted, and the rest are pending or failed.
Provisions in the bills vary. Some expand who is considered a mandatory reporter to include everyone who has reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect, while others provide exceptions for who must report. Some bills clarify how mandatory reporting rules apply in privileged communication situations. Many states increased or clarified the training requirements for mandatory reporters, particularly school personnel, including teachers, administrators and employees. Others added new offenses and clarified what constitutes a reportable offense. Still others created criminal and civil penalties for failure to report or for interfering with a report, including professional license suspension or revocation for failure to report. Also, a handful of states specify what information must be included in mandatory reports and whether the reporter can be anonymous.
This is an area of continuing evolution and change. Click HERE to visit NCSL’s 2014 Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect State Legislation page.
At least 26,000 young people 18 and older leave foster care every year without making a long-lasting connection with a family. Typically these kids step into adulthood without knowing how to apply for a job or college, get a loan, or even cook. In this StateCast, Nina Williams-Mbengue (NCSL Child Welfare Project) and Qiana Torres Flores (NCSL Working Families Project) talk about individual development accounts that encourage foster youth to manage and save their money for a better future.
Click HERE to listen to the six-minute podcast.
Extending foster care or foster care services to children beyond the age of 18 is an emerging trend in state legislation. The thousands of youth who “age out” of foster care at 18 each year face significant challenges in meeting their needs for health care, education, employment, housing and emotional support. Although all states provide independent living services to ease this critical transition, an increasing number allow youth to remain in, or return to, foster care after they reach 18. A study by the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago found that 19-year-olds in Illinois who chose to remain in foster care were better off than their counterparts in Iowa and Wisconsin, who were required to leave care at age 18. The Illinois youth received more independent living services, progressed further in their education, had more access to health and mental health services, and experienced less economic hardship and involvement in the criminal justice system than did those who left care.
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (FCA) provides the option for states to extend foster care to children after the age of 18.
Through the guidance from the FCA, legislation in this area falls into three main categories: extending foster care services to age 21, allowing youth between the ages of 19 to 21 to voluntarily re-enter foster care and providing transitional or independent living assistance. Each of these categories comes with its own variance of policies, and states have responded to legislative proposals differently. In 2012, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Washington considered legislation to expand foster services in one of the three categories. Bills were enacted in five of the states. Last year, five states enacted seven bills. During the current legislative session, about 23 bills have been introduced in 11 states—California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nebraska, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. So far, eight have been enacted, five have failed, and 10 are pending.
For more information about the FCA and to view summaries of enacted legislation from the 2012-2014 legislative sessions, click HERE.
The Children’s Bureau, through the National Resource Center for Youth Development, published its 2014 Spotlights on eight states. Independent living services and other child welfare policies from Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas are featured.
To view all eight State Spotlights, click HERE.
The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare released a biennial publication called CW360°. The spring 2014 CW360° includes federal initiatives and grants addressing well-being, how well-being research translates into policy and practice, practice models, strategies from child-welfare practitioners, cultural considerations and practices that can assist judges, attorneys and other involved in the child dependency process to focus on child well-being.
To view the full report, click HERE.
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