Child Welfare in the 21st Century

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New News and “Old Wisdom”

Posted by lboyd544 on July 13, 2015

I am writing this blog from 9200 feet elevation in the high ‘meadow’ country of northern Colorado. In fact, the wood cabin (minus electricity or running water) is only 1 mile from the Wyoming border. This is where my husband and I, along with various individual friends and family members, have spent the past 33 years of our annual vacation.

Lest you think my extended absence from this blog has all been spent at this location, let me assure you that we inhabit the cabin only 10 days each summer. Hubby might return each year for an additional 5 days, but no, I have neglected my blog. NOT my work. In fact, please check out my twice-weekly newspaper Child Welfare in the 21st Century. See the link at the top of the “About Us” page. If you like it —- and it has good coverage of current articles pertaining to child welfare, politics, adoption, Medicaid, etc —-sign up for automatic delivery to your in-box.

Back to the “old” (“new”?) wisdom of Colorado high country and in specific, fishing: For these 10 days, I have spent 3-5 hours/day fishing streams, meadows, and beaver ponds. I’ll brag that I am both the most time-devoted member of any visitors/family dropping in for a night or two. I am also the most prolific catcher-of-big-fish. (Some of you may wonder if the ratio of time vs. product averages my ‘skill’. NOT so. I am a “fish whisperer”.)

However, as I started my week, I had three words present themselves to me: planning, patience, and grateful. Continually, I reminded, counseled, and comforted myself with cast after cast to focus on where I wanted to throw and how to land that lure, to be patient that fish were there somewhere, AND to be grateful and acknowledge each element in the actual capture of some really impressive fish. (I admit, the small ones I released happily and simply enjoyed and giggled, never evolving to a status of grateful.)

Fishing this week was amazingly fruitful. Yes, maybe a late snow or various biologic reasons far beyond my information contributed to a record crowd of big trout. But I will not diminish my part in planning and patience.

This all takes me to everything else in life! And in particular to my professional commitment to child welfare (least among the ‘sexy’ issues facing Congress and state legislatures!). Yet I think the same formula applies to any career, whether teaching, medicine, law, sales, hospitality, and anything else I can think of.

Why? All endeavors require planning.

Then most of us, regardless of area or industry, must respect and accept the discipline of patience. Patience is something that never comes easily to me. “Kids can’t wait” is my internal mantra. YET, patience… with a heavy mix of persistence… has really produced results in my efforts both professionally and personally.

That brings me to the third word, which is grateful. I cannot discount the successes, whether in fishing or in politics, that I have enjoyed. These are not because of me alone. The successes are way beyond “me”. They are indeed the outcome of planning, patience, and who-knows-what. And GRATEFUL is the appropriate acknowledgement.

Warning: Don’t think two legs make a stool! Wise folk know it takes 3 legs. Gratefulness grounds that stool and allows for rest, reflection, and more planning!

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We must invest in kids.

Posted by lboyd544 on February 24, 2015

This morning I received an article from which I will paste this sentence: Between 2006 and 2011, the number of children’s hospitalizations in the United States for suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, and self-injury increased by 104% among children under age 18.

Sad and scary, but there is much we can do.

We must fight against budget cuts in our states and at the federal level that will harm mental health and behavioral health services. We must join the ranks of performance based contracting for mental health outcomes. We must stand up for quality of our service providers/provisions.  Good discussion: http://firstfocus.org/blog/sequestration-stop-cutting-kids/

We must demand that Congress reauthorize CHIP (national Children’s Health Insurance Program) promptly and fully. Check this out http://www.momsrising.org/blog/calling-all-childrens-health-supporters-simple-ways-you-can-show-your-support-for-chip

We must encourage those states who have declined to expand Medicaid via ACA, to do so through their own state plans or waivers. http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/229920-medicaid-expansion-is-next-top-healthcare-challenge-advocates-say

We can make a difference!

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Starting the New Year with Opportunity

Posted by lboyd544 on January 13, 2015

There are already several disturbing stats/markers I will comment on in coming days; however, I do believe in HOPE and the future, so let’s kick off 2015 with some exciting (and individual) opportunities.

You often hear me cry out for “more”: more action, more involvement, more resources…more.

Today I want to tell you about two opportunities to do ‘more’ without ever leaving home!  Here are ideas to look beyond our communities for an opportunity to volunteer everywhere or anywhere.

Check these out:
https://www.catchafire.org/how-it-works-orgs/

https://onlinevolunteering.org/en/vol/

Whatever your interests or skills or time, here is opportunity…and HOPE.

Laura

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Prayer for the New Year

Posted by lboyd544 on December 31, 2014

I think we all get a bit nostalgic today, Dec. 31st.  It doesn’t matter what year; it doesn’t seem to matter whether the past twelve months were ‘good’ or ‘difficult’ or whether the coming year holds specific promise and plans. Today is the one day we all are fully aware of the passage of time and of key moments in our lives.

I often write of the needs of vulnerable children. I frequently cajole those of you reading to action…again, more, quickly.

Yet I have been sensing a different perspective needed by all of us in the child welfare field and today I have found a clue in a prayer sent me by a friend. I do not know the author. Suffice it to say, I didn’t write it! But I will share.

“The vision is simple and clear. Let us leave as much as we can here, on this side of time, before we cross over to tomorrow. Let us come to the end of this year without regrets, worries, fear or anger. Let what needs to be left behind be released that our steps are as light as innocent hope, our hearts as free as first felt love.”

The message I need in this prayer is a message I fully believe in and try to present to those voiceless children and families we seek to serve: it is the message of ‘hope’. The different perspective is that we, who lead and have the opportunity to speak for our nation’s youth, also need ‘hope’ and innocent hope… unencumbered by prior failures or successes.

In 2015 we have hope for a new year, new energy, new opportunity, an expanding economy, a new Congress and Senate and state legislatures, new discoveries (even miracles) in health care, and new voices in our work to serve (and save?).

I feel light. I will release and leave behind the hardships of the past. And I look forward with hope and renewed spirit to our journey together in 2015.

Happy New Year.

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As the sun rises….

Posted by lboyd544 on December 18, 2014

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

As we move to this most special time of year, we ‘close out’ chapters (Congress, fiscal year for many agencies, college semester for our kids and gran-kids, IRA contributions, charitable giving for 2014…) and we ‘open’ to the newness of 2015.  For each of us, we are one year wiser. We had successes and joys, ups and downs, smooth and rough days in 2014. 2015 will bring its own rhythm of emotions and opportunities.

So, I want to acknowledge the ‘how’ of what we do in child welfare and foster care. The ‘why’ is a longer answer, debatable day-to-day on many days.

“How” is not mysterious. Yet it is crucial.

The “how” is HOPE. We hope for a safer, healthier future for ourselves, our families and those we seek to aid. We hope for good days, new experiences,… a miracle even. We hope that the leaders of our world, our country, our state, and local governments and schools will have courage and wisdom and creativity as much as they have opportunity to make positive differences for those they serve.

What fuels us….what we allows us to greet a New Year…is HOPE. It is this hope that distinguishes the ‘rich’ from the ‘poor’.

May HOPE abound in you and yours. Thank you for your gift of HOPE in our work together…to me personally, to our causes and efforts everywhere.

See you in 2015!

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Lessons from Adrian Peterson

Posted by lboyd544 on November 19, 2014

It is 6am. I feel embarrassed, sad, and powerless this morning.

Adrian Peterson, purportedly the best running back in the country,…and undisputed the best running back in the country if you are from Oklahoma….is suspended from pro football for the remainder of this season.

Yes. Sad because his little boy was injured by his Dad’s disciplinary actions with a switch. Sad trying to imagine the impact of this national attention and the suspension on the lifelong relationship between Dad and son. Sad that Adrian really didn’t see the severity of his actions against the boy….maybe because he was raised the same way.

Embarrassed. Embarrassed that I feel sad, because I really like Adrian and everything else I know about him, and I won’t get to watch his amazing athletic prowess this season. Embarrassed that the country and multi-million dollar sponsors of Adrian are outraged about this incident, yet not equally outraged or invested financially in the hundreds of thousands of incidents annually when other children are abused at the hands of a parent or other adult, …too many to the point of their deaths.

Powerless. Powerless to know how to move people’s hearts to reach out to educate those caring for children and help them be healthier caretakers. Powerless to tap the hearts of couples and parents who could provide foster care and/or respite for children (and their parents) when a child’s needs for safety and permanency cannot be met at home. Powerless to find the words for large businesses and successful companies who could do so much more to feed hungry families, to hire fathers and mothers who need a decent job or a second and third chance, to support before and after school programs and community youth organizations, or to mentor just one child not in their own bloodline!

I am grateful for all those who do care: who pray, who legislate, who open their wallets and their homes, and who follow the Bible’s instructions to care for the poor, the widow and the orphan, however those terms fit this 21st Century world.

Yet today, whether outraged at Adrian Peterson and his actions or at the NFL and its decision, there is a truth we must hear and acknowledge: there is much more to be done and much more each of us can do.

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As the World Turns….

Posted by lboyd544 on November 7, 2014

Yesterday was a tough day.

News outlets reporting terrible voter turnout on Tuesday. Regardless of whether you are thrilled or devastated about specific races, a 30-40% voter turn out nationally is alarming and shameful.
Speculation now swirls that with the shift in some states from Democratic Governor to Republican Governor, expansion of Medicaid for those making 133-400% of poverty may be at risk of repeal.

AND I received calls from three sets of desperate parents looking for a placement for their teenagers (two are boys, one is a girl) sons who are shortly to be dismissed from three different inpatient facilities and who cannot return to their biological homes due to fear of danger toward family members via anger, depression, or sexual acting out. None of these youth are in the custody of the state. These families cannot meet the needs of their children, although none will give up and each wants to participate in therapy with their youth….hopefully while the teen is in a therapeutic foster home. If you are in this field in child welfare, you know as you read this that available placements in therapeutic foster homes are a premium. I have 100 state custody youth on a waiting list in Oklahoma!

I am flummoxed. I am depressed. I am worried.

As a citizenry, have we become so deflated or so complacent that we do not acknowledge the freedom, privilege and responsibility of representative democracy? Can’t we handle a little rain and get out to vote?
Do people only run for office as a next job or next stepping stone forward versus desiring to truly lead, offer policy and change ideas, and commit to the fabric of this country? Are they willing to risk election or defeat only when they can reasonable predict the outcome ahead of time: incumbency, open-seat, money, “party machine”?
Do we not accept mental illness as we would any illness, so that families struggling with children’s need can reach out and find services and supports before the entire family pays an unaffordable price?
Why do we only have passion for our own kids and not open our homes to those youth needing the interest and investment (if not the ‘love’) of healthy, caring adults through temporary foster care?
How is that we have become so litigious that public child welfare goes far beyond ‘best interests of the child’ in accepting foster families and creates more barriers than pathways through background checks, references, home studies, and training approaching a job application to the FBI!

I am basically a “Pollyanna”. I am an optimist. However, yesterday (and perhaps today) was a tough day.

But not nearly so tough as the day(s) these families and youth are facing!

We must hear these pleas. It has to bother us. They have to matter. We are America, aren’t we?

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Courts and other legal partners: An essential collaboration for child welfare public and private

Posted by lboyd544 on October 29, 2014

Last week I had the privilege of presenting a workshop entitled: Therapeutic Foster Care – Exceptional Care for Complex, Trauma-Impacted Youth in Foster Care, to an annual Judicial Conference held in Oklahoma City, OK. This conclave of 250 was sponsored by the Administrative Office of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma. Attendees included Judges, District Attorney’s, private client attorneys (for the youth in care), state child welfare workers, and CASA volunteers. The presentation and discussion created an energetic, informative exchange that both provided questions and answers for services in communities for these youth and also a clear recognition of our overlapping responsibilities, if we are to serve such youth and their families.

I want to reflect on just a few highlights:

1- I hope other states annually have such conferences and opportunities for training in cross-disciplines so that we best meet the needs of vulnerable youth and families. The respect for each other and the willingness to ask and learn permeated the large meeting room for these judges and public servants.

2- Therapeutic foster care (TFC) is a community-based treatment, provided in specially trained foster homes for youth who would otherwise be in group homes or other congregate caring, including an in patient facility. TFC is a medically necessary service, the clinical components of which are paid by Medicaid. It was surprising and most informative for Judges to learn that a youth cannot simply be ‘ordered’ to therapeutic foster care. Instead, a child must be ‘approved’ as meeting medical necessity criteria by the state’s Medicaid authority if reimbursement for services is to occur.

3- Public child welfare workers and court personnel were surprised and pleased to know that kinship and relative placements for youth with child welfare involvement can, and should, be approved for training and services as TFC homes, if the child meets such behavioral and mental health conditions as enumerated in Medicaid criteria. Likewise, TFC agencies can provide services for in-home stabilization in order to divert an out-of-home placement.

4- With the signing on September 29, 2014, of the federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, states must begin to screen, identify, track and serve minor victims of sex trafficking. Therapeutic Foster Care and specialize congregate care are the only two appropriate treatment resources for this population. We must work quickly and closely with one another to provide specialized responses for trafficked youth.
States vary in their definitions of both “medical necessity” and their understanding of therapeutic foster care. The national

Foster Family-based Treatment Association is hard at work with Congress to create uniform, national definitions and standards for TFC services and professionals. As that effort moves forward, I hope all states will develop or continue the multi-discipline sharing such as provided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court Administrator. Check into what is happening in your state and ask to be involved!

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New Polling Data Showing Strong Support for Investments in Children and Youth

Posted by lboyd544 on October 23, 2014

The Children’s Leadership Council has released the results of a new national public opinion poll that finds that an overwhelming 79 percent of Americans favor investing more federal funds in programs that improve the lives of children and youth across the age spectrum from birth to adulthood. And by a strong 18-point margin, Americans say that investing more in children’s health, education and well-being (54%) should be a higher priority today than reducing taxes (36%).

These findings are timely, coming as they do on the eve of national elections and during a period when the majority of American families are contending with a slow economic recovery and growing inequality. Nearly one in five children and young adults in the U.S. live in poverty, and many struggle to make ends meet. As advocates, we know that government investments can work—this month’s Census data show that federal anti-poverty programs like SNAP, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit lifted millions of children out of poverty last year. The new poll results indicate that the majority of Americans also believe such supports are essential in helping families navigate today’s economy.

As Congress makes decisions on the federal budget and debates the worthiness and effectiveness of federal programs, it is our hope that these findings will help you and your organizations make the case for investing—not cutting—critical services for children, youth and families.

To make it easy to share this information, in educating elected officials, the media and others, including:
A memo and PowerPoint presentation on the poll and its results
Sample social media posts and shareable graphics
A customizable blog post, with quotes
Short blurbs for your site and e-newsletters
A recording of the researchers walking through the findings
These and more are available at bit.ly/CLCpoll.

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Coming Soon to an Agency near you!

Posted by lboyd544 on October 21, 2014

Performance Based-Contracting

Performance Based Contracting has long been implemented in sales, manufacturing, and other business environments. Over the past few years, health care and hospitals have joined this path in defining desired outcomes for patient care and in rewarding the meeting of these goals.

PBC, short for Performance Based Contracting, has spread out into the fields of human services, behavioral health care, and foster care as well.

All members of the Oklahoma Therapeutic Foster Care Association are fully engaged with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to define organization and service goals for the foster care population we serve, for our foster families, and for our agencies. We are in the midst of identifying : goals for recruitment, outcomes for TFC implementation and services, strengths of TFC providers, and system barriers to achieving desired outcomes.

OTFCA specifically is committed to being the best TFC service delivery group in the US! We know we are well on our way. All agencies of the Association are trained in trauma-informed services for families and youth. All agencies are nationally accredited in behavior health. All agencies utilize evidence-based programming, such as Together Facing the Challenge. We know of no other state association where all agencies meet these criteria.

Proud of you OTFCA!

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