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.
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The Title IV-E Prevention Services (Family First) Clearinghouse released its assessment of the first round of prevention programs and services that are eligible for Title IV-E reimbursement under the Family First Prevention Services Act. Seven of the programs and services are supported or well-supported, two are promising and three do not currently meet the criteria established by the clearinghouse. Well-supported models show success beyond a year after treatment. Supported practices use a random-controlled trial or rigorous quasi-experimental design and have sustained success for at least six months after the end of treatment. Promising practices are created from an independently reviewed study that uses a control group and show statistically significant results.
States can use this information to assess whether or not they have these programs or services in their communities, and to get a better understanding of how the clearinghouse will be assessing prevention programs and services in the future. There are several other models under review, but we do not yet have a time table for the release of their assessments. Additionally, the public, including state or local government administrators and tribes, will have the opportunity to submit program or service recommendations for potential review through electronic submission or mail directly to the Prevention Services Clearinghouse at least annually.
Functional Family Therapy
Healthy Families America
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy
Parents as Teachers
Families Facing the Future
Methadone Maintenance Therapy
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Children’s Home Society of New Jersey Kinship Navigator Model
Does not currently meet criteria
Kinship Interdisciplinary Navigation Technologically-Advanced Model (KIN-Tech)
Multisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect
Each session, state legislators introduce hundreds of bills related to child welfare. Two issues of particular interest to constituents this session are Foster Care “Bills of Rights” and civil statutes of limitations in child sexual abuse cases. Legislation providing a Foster Care Bill of Rights is a large category that typically establishes rights for foster parents, birth parents, siblings in care, or the children themselves. Not only has NCSL noticed quite a bit of legislative action on these topics, but the child welfare team has received numerous inquiries regarding the topic. Below are a few examples of the actions legislatures around the country are taking.
CO H 1288 | Enacted | Colorado lawmakers created a Foster Youth Sibling Bill of Rights. Some of these rights include: Siblings will have the same placement when possible; foster/adoptive parents and caseworkers will be trained on the importance of a sibling relationship; siblings will be notified of major events impacting their sibling immediately; and, permanency planning discussions will include siblings.
CT H 6403 | Enacted | Connecticut legislators created a Children in Care Bill of Rights and a Sibling Bill of Rights. The Children in Care Bill of Rights includes: visitation or ongoing contact with the child's family and friends; stability and support in all aspects of the child's education; assistance for the child in building life skills and obtaining legal documents; and expectations and rights for children over age 12.
NCSL’s Foster Care Bill of Rights webpage provides more examples of rights of foster children and foster parents within the child welfare system.
Civil statutes of limitations in child sexual abuse cases is another topic that state lawmakers are addressing in the 2019 session. Tennessee and Hawaii are two examples of states that have taken legislative action on the subject. See NCSL’s 50-state summary for more information.
TN H 660 | Pending | This bill would eliminate the civil statute of limitations on child sexual abuse committed on or after July 1, 2019.
HI S 1035 Pending | This bill would repeal the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse entirely.
NCSL’s Child Welfare Financing webpage has the latest survey data from Child Trends on state child welfare spending (fiscal year 2016). Use this data to gain a better understanding of how states use local, state and federal funds to finance child welfare programs. The page contains an interactive graph that offers a visual demonstration of the complicated funding streams used for child welfare services in all 50 states.
Since January 2019, 25 states have introduced 73 bills or resolutions related to Family First. Of those, 39 bills have been enacted or adopted in 29 states. States are continuing to form working groups, appropriate funds and take bold initiatives to reshape child welfare systems. To keep up to date on the latest legislative action regarding Family First, visit NCSL’s Family First Updates and New Legislation webpage.
Researchers from the Society for Research in Child Development examined the effectiveness of current child maltreatment prevention efforts and concluded that targeted programs, like Family Connects, often struggle to retain families with the greatest challenges, while universal support programs for all parents are sometimes not enough. In an April 2019 brief titled Creating Universal Tiered Systems to Prevent Child Maltreatment, Deborah Daro, a senior research fellow from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, recommends tiered systems that provide universal support to all parents and more intensive interventions for those who need them. Legislators seeking to maximize the efficiency of their child welfare systems can consider combining universal with evidence-based targeted programs.
A growing body of evidence suggests that states should add a “housing first” approach to the list of tools that can improve outcomes for children and families involved in child welfare systems. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago recently published a report on their evaluation of Connecticut’s Supportive Housing for Families Program (SHF). Connecticut’s SHF program is available for any families that have an open case file with Connecticut’s child protective services, whether or not they have had a child removed. Researchers found 30% of families enrolled in the program were reunited with their children who had been in care, in contrast to the 9% reunification rate of children that were not enrolled in the program. The report also showed that only 9% of children involved in the program were removed from their homes, as compared to the 40% removal rate for children that were not a part of the program. Dig further into the report to learn more about how a housing-first strategy may help address child welfare issues in your state.
U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (R-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) have introduced the Family First Transition and Support Act of 2019 to provide states with additional resources to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act. The bill would eliminate the federal foster care income test for eligibility for foster care maintenance payments (not addressed in the Family First Prevention Services Act). Currently, federal foster care funds can only be used for low-income families. This bill would also expand funding for kinship care support services, including child care, transportation and legal services.
To help states prepare to implement Family First, the act would delay the requirement that 50% of prevention programs be well-supported. States would also receive additional funds to research and develop interventions that meet the evidence-based requirements. Visit NCSL’s Family First summary page and new Legislation page for more information.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Social Policy, released a toolkit to help child welfare leaders address the unique challenges of expectant and parenting youth in foster care face. The toolkit focuses on data collection and includes a data sharing agreement template. The toolkit also includes state data snapshots, policy examples, a data checklist and 10 tips for improving outcomes for these youth.
Governor Charlie Baker vetoed a bill that would abolish a state rule that denies additional welfare benefits to children born into families already receiving welfare benefits.
April 8, 2019 Continue
The Massachusetts legislature voted to override the Governor’s veto of a bill that would repeal a welfare rule barring additional aid for children born into families already receiving public benefits.
April 25, 2019 Continue
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will abandon the troubled $231 million computer system it uses to track child welfare cases after being granted laxer court oversight. The department plans to make a gradual transition to a newer and more reliable technology system.
June 27, 2019 Continue
Mississippi may face a loss of control over its Child Welfare System as a result of a class-action lawsuit.
June 29, 2019 Continue
The head of a suburban St. Louis child welfare agency and alternative school for children with behavior problem has been charged with six felony counts of first-degree child endangerment and misdemeanor counts of attempted child endangerment and fourth-degree assault.
May 8, 2019 Continue
A new training program for child welfare workers in Minnesota, a Child Welfare Training Academy which will be rolled out over four years, is now underway. The new program includes increasing Department of Human Services staffing and developing five regional hubs so that a child welfare worker can access training within a 50 mile radius of their home.
July 2, 2019 Continue
State officials announced 5-year, $197 million contract to put a private Salina, Kansas based agency in charge of overseeing the care of abused and neglected children in the Omaha area.
June 5, 2019 Continue
The Professional Guild of Ohio, which represents County Job and Family Services workers, filed a strike notice saying they plan to walk off the job July 19 if an agreement over wages is not reached.
July 10, 2019 Continue
Officials monitoring the Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services have said the agency’s child welfare system had its best performance to date. The biannual assessment says the department has made good faith efforts in 29 of 31 criteria measuring child welfare.
May 18, 2019 Continue
Governor Kate Brown declared a crisis at the Oregon child welfare agency. She issued an executive order laying out a path for her to take a direct role in day-to-day operations at the state’s child welfare program.
April 19, 2019 Continue
The state Department of Human Services said in a report that investigated the circumstances leading to a foster child’s 2016 murder that Pennsylvania’s child welfare system is overwhelmed and in need of accountability at the county level.
April 1, 2019 Continue
According to an annual report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the overall well-being of South Dakota’s youth population improved during 2019 despite a low availability of early childhood education. The report ranked South Dakota as 26th in the nation in child welfare, up from 29th the previous year.
June 21, 2019 Continue
According to a study released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count project and a news release from the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, Tennessee has been losing ground in keeping abused and neglected children in family settings and out of institutions.
April 2, 2019 Continue
The state of West Virginia entered into an agreement with the federal government Tuesday after the Department of Justice found the state had violated the civil rights of children with emotional and behavioral special needs.
May 14, 2019 Continue
Hundreds of children in Wisconsin’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems who have behavioral health issues are being sent to facilities outside of the state.
May 19, 2019 Continue