Child Welfare in the 21st Century

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Posts Tagged ‘child advocacy’

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:

We must demand that Congress reauthorize CHIP (national Children’s Health Insurance Program) promptly and fully. Check this out

We must encourage those states who have declined to expand Medicaid via ACA, to do so through their own state plans or waivers.

We can make a difference!


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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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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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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

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Work to do for Child Advocates in Home States

Posted by lboyd544 on December 19, 2011

I have been encouraging child advocate leaders in each state to monitor and become involved in the work of their own state’s development of the new “health care exchanges”, which  the Affordable Care Act requires of all states beginning 2014. Simultaneously, my work nationally with the Foster Family-based Treatment Association has included my participation as part of a national child advocacy coalition working with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as they study development of an Essential Benefits Package (EBP). We have advocated strongly for needs of foster youth to be addressed by CMS in the benefits package, including both biomedical health needs and behavioral health. 

Friday Dec. 16, HHS published ‘guidance’ announcing a framework of benchmarks each state will be allowed to consider in developing their own EBP. This does not give the federal protections we were seeking with our efforts. Instead, it requires that child advocates must actively engage with legislative, state insurance department personnel, and Medicaid administering bodies with the focus of bringing representation for impoverished and/or custody youth into the discussions.

We will continue our work nationally. You are encouraged to identify those leaders in your state who have responsibility for establishing your state exchange and developing the Essential Benefits Package. That work is well underway now. Your investment of time and energy early in the New Year is encouraged. 

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