Child Welfare in the 21st Century

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Archive for the ‘Foster Care’ Category

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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Posted in Child Welfare, Foster Care, Human Services | Leave a Comment »

Former Foster Youth to qualify for Medicaid under ACA

Posted by lboyd544 on August 26, 2013

One lesser known provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that takes effect Jan. 1, 2014, requires states to provide Medicaid coverage until age 26 for young people who have aged out of foster care. The provision applies not only to those aging out of foster care in 2014 and beyond, but also former foster youth who have aged out since 2006, as long as they haven’t yet reached age 26 and were receiving Medicaid when they aged out.

The only “wrinkle” in the law is that a state is not required to provide coverage to former foster youth who aged out in another state. Instead, it is a state’s option to provide coverage to such young people, with the hope that states see the moral imperative of offering such coverage.

A key reason this “aging out” provision is included in the ACA is because it complements a similar provision allowing children to remain on a parent’s health insurance policy until age 26. In other words, the ACA recognizes that former foster youth deserve the same access to health care as any other young person.

We know former foster care children need health insurance. According to a study released by the Georgetown Center on Children and Families, approximately 80 percent of children in foster care have a chronic medical condition, and 25 percent have three or more chronic health problems. In addition, it is estimated there are about 11,000 children who previously aged out of foster care and have not yet turned 26 who would be eligible for Medicaid.  (from PA Partnership for Kids)

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“Real” Possibilities for Foster Youth

Posted by lboyd544 on February 6, 2013

These are scary times!  Fiscal cliff, sequestration, etc. etc.

However, there is excitement and possibility in the air. The Obama Administration, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) have all published one or more reports within the past 10 months discussing the plight of foster youth in accessing appropriate treatment services, medication if needed, and evidence-informed care. ACYF is to be applauded especially for bringing concrete ideas to the goal of ‘well being’ for foster youth, heretofore and elusive concept.

I am delighted to share with you a recent publication from the Foster Family-based Treatment Association, which discusses treatment (or therapeutic) foster care and what is being done in the field to address the challenges of these youth and the reports referenced above.

Here’s the link:

Beyond Safety and Permanency: Promoting Social and Emotional Well-Being for Youth in Treatment Foster Care, Published by Foster Family-based Treatment Association

http://www.ffta.org/publicpolicy_advocacy/Beyond_Safety_and_Permanency.pdf

Happy reading!

Posted in Child Welfare, Foster Care, Research and Reports | Leave a Comment »

Novel idea!? ….duh and ‘shame on us’?

Posted by lboyd544 on June 24, 2012

Last week while in Washington, DC, I attended a briefing on Capitol Hill recognizing June as Reunification Month. You see, we have Adoption Month (April), Foster Care Month, (May), and now Reunification Month.

Why? You may wonder…as did I at first. However, I am now a vocal proponent!
Indeed, when children are adopted, we celebrate. Families, nuclear and extend, cheer and gather to celebrate and announce this new family! As they should! Judges close the courthouse to other business of litigation and ‘consternation’ to protect the excitement and success of an adoption process. As an adoptive mother, I have always been a vocal proponent.

But what about those families whose children were taken from them for some action (or inaction) on the part of the parents, and for some recognition of lack of safety for the child to remain in their home.

It is at least as difficult a path to be able to reunify a family, perhaps more so, than to adopt. Consider that parent who is now gainfully employed and providing for their family as best they can, or the parent who has ceased substance abuse and is working a daily program. What about the parent who left a situation of domestic violence and is learning to make healthy, independent decisions for self and children. What about the parent with mental health issues who is faithful to their treatment program no matter how difficult the day-to-day may be.

Our courts and our public child welfare systems see more reunifications in a year than they do adoptions. And just imagine the work involved for those parents who do earn the right to have their children returned.
Surely, we should be celebrating these victories! In our courts, in our offices, in our homes, in our communities. I will be suggesting to our judges that they can (and should) close court proceedings to celebrate these ‘renewed’ families in the same way they celebrate adoptions. I will be encouraging foster care agencies – public and private – to create opportunities to gather families and celebrated these successes.

These ARE successes! Hard won, most times! They deserve our applause also…not our judgement. Let’s get involved!

Posted in Child Welfare, Foster Care, Human Services | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Families Matter! (and) Family matters?

Posted by lboyd544 on June 15, 2012

It is estimated that approximately 400,000 children and youth are in foster care placements in the US. However, there is an equally important statistic that is unfortunately overlooked too often.
There are more children in TANF kinship care settings then there are children in foster care! 450,000 are estimated to be in kinship foster care placements, according to testimony on Thursday, May 17, before the House Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Ways and Means Committee. These are foster youth also, albeit youth living with ‘kin’ vs. non-kinship foster placements, as we typically think of foster care.
We must be cautious, however. Recent data do not show significantly better outcomes for youth in kinship foster placements when it comes to measures of mental health needs and access to services. Yet earlier data suggested that children do better in the long-term when placed with kin. And of great concern should be additional recent reports that services from the public child welfare field do not provide the same levels of support, frequency of visits, or access to services for kinship placements as is available to regular foster placements. The mythology is that “Grandma will handle it”. We know that Grandma MAY handle it a bit longer without support than a ‘stranger’ foster family might. But Grandma (and any relative ) faces the same challenges from children entering her home, her own age and need requirements, finances, etc., that other foster families face. She, too, needs support and services!

It would be inappropriate and non-productive to simply blame the public child welfare system. Almost all states experience high case loads and over-worked public child welfare staff. The research data is changing. Fewer children are in foster care in many states, but those same states often show increases in kinship foster care placements. Adoption numbers are increasing; however services to these same youths and families post-adoption are scant and pose families for future pain and potential disruption as children and relationships evolve in a new family structure.

As always, these youth, whether foster youth or kinship placements, and their families (foster families, kinship families, adoptive families) are the families of OUR communities. As communities, it is incumbent on us to look around, extend a hand, offer support, encourage leaders and policy makers, ….and offer a smile, a cup of coffee, or an hour of respite to these heroes trying to make a difference in a vulnerable child’s life.

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Important Recognition of Foster Care needs by Administration

Posted by lboyd544 on February 20, 2011

Tucked into President Obama’s FY2012 budget that was released last week was a proposal for funding over 10 years to improve the child welfare system in this country. Outcomes such as more services for families and youth, shorter times in out-of-home care, increasing permanency through reunification, adoption, and guardianship, and lower rates of re-entry into foster care are stated goals. Additionally, the President recognized the need to remove unnecessary administrative requirements that impede progress toward these goals for public and private sector providers of services.

Many have been hard at work through various national coalitions of professional child advocate organizations on these goals for some time. It is exciting and encouraging to the President Obama listening, supporting, and leading with us!

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What’s to come for the children?

Posted by lboyd544 on February 5, 2011

It is reported that Governor Mary Fallin will announce in her State-of-the-State address Monday a 3-5% budget reduction for all state agencies. Education, health, and human services are slated for a 3% cut.
While relieved that those agencies will receive the ‘smaller’ cuts, we must remain mindful that those cuts mean services….and therefore lives and quality of life.
There are no easy answers.

I applaud the Governor on recognizing the vulnerability of children and families through the lower reduction. I pray for some realization of additional funding as this Session moves forward.

It will be another tough year where Oklahomans must pull together for the well-being of all and further proof of the “Oklahoma standard”.

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