Read a rundown on the top public policy issues facing state lawmakers in 2015, state-private sector partnerships for infrastructure, e-cigarettes and taxes and dealing with cuts to mental health programs.
NCSL 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 testimony 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.
Three Branch Institute Meeting
From June 30-July 2, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, the National Conference of State Legislatures and Casey Family Programs will host a meeting of the Three Branch Institute on Child Social and Emotional Well-Being in Milwaukee, Wisc. The Three Branch Institute is a partnership of the judicial, executive and legislative branches of seven states. Participants will interact with national experts, foster youth, state administrators and their colleagues in other states to continue to work on their strategic plans, exchange ideas and discuss barriers and potential solutions to improving the well-being of children in foster care.
2014 NCSL Legislative Summit
NCSL will host the 2014 Legislative Summit in Minneapolis 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 “Keeping the American Dream Alive,” focusing 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, there will be a criminal justice plenary meeting regarding child trafficking and an update on what is happening at the federal level.
Register for the 2014 NCSL Legislative Summit
NCSL Child Fatality Reviews Legislation 2007-2013
From 2007-2013, 43 bills have been enacted dealing with child fatality reviews. These bills address the creation of child fatality review processes and commissions, defining terms such as “near fatality” for purposes of the child fatality review, reporting child fatalities to the child welfare department, confidentiality, public disclosure of child fatalities and near fatalities, detailing specific procedures if a child’s death was suspicious or related to abuse and neglect and tracking of prior involvement with the child welfare system. NCSL continues to track this legislation.
Identity Theft and Foster Youth
As concerns over identity theft continue across the country, particular attention is being paid to identity theft of foster children. In the past, children in foster care typically did not learn about their credit history problems until they had aged out of the system. By that point the opportunity to teach financial literacy was lost and so were the supports necessary to help foster youth rehabilitate their credit. While exact numbers are not available, starting in 2006 states began addressing the issue by requiring state child welfare agencies to perform consumer reports on all children in their care as they approached their 16th birthdays. Congress followed suit with the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011, which mandated consumer credit reports and services to assist foster youth whose identities have been stolen. Since then, three more states have enacted legislation to protect foster youth from identity theft.
Check out the June Issue of State Legislatures magazine for more on identity theft and foster youth.
2013 Child Welfare Legislative Enactments Overview
During the 2013 legislative session, NCSL identified at least 296 child welfare-related bills enacted in approximately 44 states. This report provides an overview of those enactments in the following major topic areas: administration/oversight, adoption, child fatality, child protection, courts and legal representation, education of children in foster care, foster care, infant abandonment, kinship care, prevention, reporting of child abuse, services for older youth, shaken baby syndrome prevention, siblings, termination of parental rights and Tribes. The largest number of legislative enactments occurred within the topics of foster care and child protection and reporting.
Read the 2013 Child Welfare Legislative Actions Overview.
View the 2013 Child Welfare Legislation Database.
Extending Foster Care to 21
The approximately 23,000 youth who “age out” of foster care at age 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 of states allow youth to remain in, or return to, foster care after they reach age 18. State legislation in response to the Fostering Connections Act of 2008 now allows states to receive federal reimbursement for youth in care up to age 21.
Former Foster Care Youth and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Toolkit
The Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy of New York State released a resource to help foster youth and those working with foster youth tackle issues of health care and health care coverage. The toolkit includes information about Medicaid expansion, a frequently-asked-questions document on the ACA, health care insurance options for young adults after foster care and information about how to talk to foster care youth about new insurance options.
Children's Bureau Express
The Children’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration of Children and Families publishes a monthly newsletter featuring recent child welfare news and reports. The May and June 2014 newsletters are available online and include information about the financial challenges faced by youth in transition, ways to support youth in transition, youth engagement in case reviews, a look at California’s foster care re-entry data, information on the upcoming third round of Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs), data on African-American males in child welfare, the unmet mental health needs of kinship care providers and more.
Check out the May 2014 and June 2014 issues of the Children’s Bureau Express.
GAO Report on the Implementation of Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report on state implementation of the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (FCA). The report analyzes three provisions of the FCA: family connections, involving finding family members when a child is removed from the home and making particular efforts to keep siblings together or in contact; school stability; and older youth. Analysis of these provisions included how states have implemented the rules necessary to be in compliance with the FCA and whether and how the federal government has monitored these efforts. The report further discusses state-identified challenges in implementation of the provisions. The GAO concluded by recommending more guidance to states on how to calculate savings, systematic monitoring of states and improvement in state reporting requirements and processes.
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