NCSL’s Child Welfare Legislative Policy Network Newsletter | Quarter 3, 2018


Child Welfare Fellows Update

NCSL’s inaugural Child Welfare Fellows meeting was a resounding success. Legislators from across the nation and political spectrum learned from experts and each other on the issues facing state child welfare systems. Fellows tackled recruitment and retention of case workers, the intersection of substance abuse and child welfare, the importance of a trauma-informed response when dealing with children and youth within the child welfare system and much more. After the meeting one fellow wrote on the evaluation, “I love the camaraderie, the great info and diversity of topics! Thank you! I'm so glad I came!” The learning will continue in September when NCSL hosts a webinar on engaging and retaining foster parents. Registration for this webinar is open to all legislators and legislative staff.

Oregon Launches FFPSA Workgroup

Senator Sara Gelser (D), chair of Oregon’s Senate Human Services Committee and an NCSL child welfare fellow, recognizes the immense opportunity and challenge the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) offers. In response, she has organized a workgroup to ensure her state is prepared. Members include representatives from the three branches of government and a wide range of child welfare system partners. The group is meeting monthly through October for discussions with experts, the state child welfare agency and other stakeholders on policy, budget and communication needs related to implementation of FFPSA. Members of the public are welcome to attend. More information can be found on the group’s webpage.

How Many Students Are in Foster Care in the United States?

The 74, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news site covering education in America, recently reported on the number of foster care students in the United States and their unique considerations when it comes to education. For instance, youth in care are often forced to switch schools when they move from one placement to the next. As a result of attending multiple schools with differing standards and curricula, students may miss out on vital components of their academic development. For a closer look at how many students are affected by these circumstances and how states are addressing them, check out the 74. Also see NCSL’s report on legislation related to the education of children in foster care.

HHS Releases Annual Child Welfare Report to Congress

In June, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its annual report to Congress summarizing states’ performance on seven child welfare outcome measures. Using 2015 data (the most recent available), the report describes contextual factors relevant to each state, analyzes state and national performance across time and recommends states address barriers to permanency in their child welfare initiatives.

A Child Welfare Guide for Law Enforcement

Child Eating Watermelon

The Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, has released an examination of the child welfare system and its intersection with law enforcement. The report makes recommendations for how child welfare workers can support law enforcement personnel and vice versa. Caseworkers are encouraged to explain child welfare terminology to officers and help them to understand the importance of a trauma-informed response when responding to calls. Officers are offered tips on how they can help child welfare agencies and families. It is important that as legislators work to improve child safety and reduce or prevent trauma for children, they consider the role of law enforcement and strategies to improve communication and coordination between child welfare staff and law enforcement. 

Acts of Omission: An Overview of Child Neglect

Most cases of child maltreatment do not involve physical or sexual abuse. In fact, more than 75 percent of confirmed cases of child maltreatment are of some form of neglect. This bulletin from the federal Child Welfare Information Gateway defines the most common forms of neglect (physical, medical, emotional, educational and inadequate supervision), identifies factors that contribute to a child’s risk of neglect and highlights protective factors that help to prevent neglect. The bulletin offers strategies for identification and risk assessment, prevention and intervention. Promising and evidence-based practices from the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare are included. Although this bulletin is intended for professionals, it can be helpful for legislators as they consider policy strategies to prevent, identify and reduce the recurrence of neglect.

New Resource for Improving use of Psychotropic Medication for Children in Foster Care

According to a 2011 report by the General Accounting Office, children in foster care are more than twice as likely to receive a prescription for psychotropic medication as children not in foster care. While acknowledging that children in foster care are more likely to encounter trauma, better systems of oversight and monitoring of the use of psychotropic medication may be needed. Through support from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Center for Health Care Strategies created a resource center aimed at improving use of psychotropic medication for children in foster care. Resources include information about the issues and challenges of psychotropic medication use and management; links to state policies and best practices for ensuring appropriate use of psychotropic medications; guidance by and for the federal government; and much more. The resource center is an opportunity for legislators to better inform the legislation they create regarding psychotropic medication for children in foster care.

2018 KIDS COUNT® data now available

Every year, The Annie E. Casey Foundation evaluates the state of child well-being in the United States with its KIDS COUNT® Data Book. The book attempts to measure economic well-being, education levels, health, family and community indicators, child abuse and neglect and out-of-home placement for children in all 50 states. How are the children in your state doing? Download the book or dig deeper using the interactive KIDS Count Data Center.

News Across the States


Arizona Department of Child Safety receives the IT Solutions Management for Human Services (ISM) award for its mobile solution.

Sept. 19, 2018 CONTINUE


Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies and the probation department reached a compromise on how to treat minors who have been picked up for prostitution.

Aug. 29, 2018 CONTINUE


The Department of Children and Families has satisfied four more of the measures required by the federal government under the “Juan F.” consent decree, according to the latest Court Monitor’s Office report.

Aug. 22, 2018 CONTINUE


The Solace House will be the first safe house for human trafficking victims to be opened in Idaho.

Sept. 18, 2018 CONTINUE


The Kansas Department for Children and Families failed to meet 16 standards for keeping children safe and giving them a stable home over the past year.

Aug. 30, 2018 CONTINUE


Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services is working on expanding foster care eligibility to age 21.

Aug. 22, 2018 CONTINUE


State prosecutors are investigating whether an ex-Baltimore Social Services chief properly placed foster babies.

Sept. 13, 2018 CONTINUE


Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) appointed the director of an agency that serves as a watchdog of the state's child welfare system to lead a review after a scathing audit of Children's Protective Services.

Sept. 11, 2018 CONTINUE


The St. Louis Archdiocese is handing over its records to the state attorney general's office for an investigation into the Missouri church's handling of sexual abuse accusations against clergy members.

Aug. 24, 2018 CONTINUE

The Missouri House Judiciary Committee unanimously advanced legislation that would bolster Missouri’s drug treatment courts.

Sept. 11, 2018 CONTINUE