Child Welfare in the 21st Century

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Posts Tagged ‘child welfare’

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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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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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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Removed! America’s shame!

Posted by lboyd544 on March 9, 2014

Prepare to be uncomfortable, impatient, angry, desiring to delete this blog message….BUT DON’T. 

Instead….read through, watch this 10 minute video link and change your life! And maybe the life of a child. Maybe several lives of other children and adults.

For those days when you wonder:
1- Why do “I”/”we” do this work?
2- What can I do to help?
3- “What’s wrong” with society?
4- Can the future be better/fixed?

Bring a tissue and give this 10 minutes.

http://vimeo.com/m/73172036

 

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Suffering:

Posted by lboyd544 on December 11, 2013

What does that word mean to you? Illness, sadness, depression, poverty, loneliness.

So many things can come to mind, especially during the holiday season when we Christians think of Christ’s birth and suffering for our sins…..when we think of those who have so much less than we or not enough of the basics that they need – food, shelter, friends….when we acknowledge our health and ‘riches’ – knowing others are frail and hurting….when we give more generously than usual to loved ones and to strangers.

“Suffering” is not a word I like. It is not a word I know how to ‘fix’. And I am a fixer (for better or worse).

There is one segment of humanity suffering about whom I want to heighten your awareness. Over the coming months, I will continue to address this specific group from time to time. That “group” is the women (97%) and men (3%) who are victims of sex trafficking. In particular, I will be addressing the plight of children and youth who are victims of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking and victims of Commercial Sex Exploitation of Children.

All of us need to begin to at least recognize this activity and this population: DMST and CSEC. The United States is the hub of this crime! Nowhere else. 83% of these victims are American citizens. Not foreign nationals. Almost 50% of all victims are children. And somewhere between 65-90% of these child victims have been involved in the child welfare system.

I hope you see why I am focused on this specific segment and this specific victimization. I am ashamed and embarrassed. What is it about American males that they need and dominate this crime? (and maybe that the rest of us – women, too –  don’t speak up, don’t even know about this tragedy or neglect to get help for sex addicted people we do know?)

There are 5000+ animal shelters in the US. I contribute to one of those and one of my grown daughters has made volunteerism at that same shelter her life’s passion.

BUT there are only 226 treatment beds in the US for victims of sex trafficking! How can that be!

As I conclude this blog, it strikes me that at a time of joy and celebration that I am writing about this tragic condition. Knowledge is power, however. And I am not fearful. As a nation, we will address this suffering — it will take time, time the victims don’t have. (Statistics suggest that the average life span of a victim once they enter the trafficking trade is 7 years.)

We will a better nation this time next year. Your awareness…your concern will be a big part of that.

Season’s Blessings on us all! For Joy, Good Will and Peace.

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A serious, typically unrecognized emergency.

Posted by lboyd544 on October 7, 2013

One area of urgency you should know about is that of domestic child trafficking and commercial sex exploitation of children. Too many citizens, mental health experts, child welfare personnel, and other community leaders – elected, appointed, or volunteer – are not aware of this problem in America and, specifically for my home state audience, in Oklahoma. 

There many things we do not know about DMST, but here are a few that we do know and that I want you to know:

 

 

1.     Domestic minor sex trafficking and exploited children and youth are victims of child abuse and neglect. They are not prostitutes. They do not belong under the jurisdiction of juvenile delinquency authorities or the adult criminal system.

 

 

  1. The commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of minors involves not only payment for sex acts, peep shows, pornography, etc., but also involves survival sex (exchanging sex/sexual acts for money or something of value such as shelter, food, or drugs).

 

 

3.     Depending on the city, 60-85% of trafficked youth once had some connections to their state child welfare systems.

 

 

4.     Responding to the unique needs of this trafficked population requires collaboration among many systems (child welfare, law enforcement, courts, mental health, education, medical professionals, legislators). The first step is awareness!

 

 

5.     Treatment for trafficked victims/survivors must be trauma-based.

 

 Therapeutic foster care can be an appropriate, effective, and healing treatment setting for this population of children, youth, and young adults. TFC provides specialized, trauma-informed services to these individuals in a safe, home environment in a community. TFC is one possible treatment intervention for exploited and trafficked youth to heal in community versus group or congregate care facilities.

Keep reading, listening, and learning. The US House and Senate and this Administration are very focused on this area of abuse and the needs of these children, youth, and young adults. I will be posting more on this topic.

 

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New Study from Annie E. Casey Kids Count Shows Long Term Risks for Children in Poverty:

Posted by lboyd544 on June 24, 2013

Newspapers across various states will be publishing this week details of the annual Kids Count Data Book and reflecting on improvements and declines concerning the well-being of their youngest citizens.

Oklahoma moved ‘up’ this year to 36th in child well-being (from 40th last year). Yet there is much to be alarmed about in terms of a child’s future. It is known that children’s brains develop most rapidly from birth to the age of entering school. Brains continue to mature and form through teen years; yet, with each skipped-step or missed-opportunity, optimum brain development, ie. optimum futures, is impacted.

According to Kids Count, in Oklahoma children living in poverty remains at 23%!   No improvement and basically, at the national average. Mind you, this is in a state that boasts accurately a strong economic base for future development and a recent past of sustaining minimal job loss due to the recent recession.

Oklahoma figures that worsened this year include 30% of children whose parents lack secure employment, 36 % of children living in single parent homes, and 59% of children not attending early childhood education. 73% of eight graders at not “at-level” in math. How many of today’s underperforming eight graders would have also shown up in those other groups of statistics 5 and 10 years prior?

These stats are just for Oklahoma. All states should be proud of any improvements; some states rightly boast of major strides forward. In Maryland, for example, there was a 10 percent decline in high school dropouts and a 16 percent decline in the teen birth rate between 2005 and 2010. However, 179,000 Maryland children, or 14 percent, were living in poverty in 2011, an increase of 27 percent since 2005. This is a huge increase in poverty of children in Maryland and yet their rate is still only 14%. Oklahoma’s, as noted above, is 23%.

How can our country tolerate any of these statistics? In one of the few, thriving, industrialized countries of the world, almost one-quarter of our most vulnerable citizens live in poverty! And there is no guaranteed access to basic health care for all our children! Let’s not even look at the awful statistics for dental health availability.
Oops, and might these factors impact mental health? Of course, they do!

This is my ‘moan’. And as you hear ‘moaning’ about less government, Obamacare, needed tax cuts, etc., please listen carefully. Who is talking and about whom are they talking? What is their plan for protecting tomorrow’s future? Are they willing to tackle the ‘shame’ of children’s conditions today?  

I don’t know of any political perspective or government (or private!) program that cannot be improved. I believe in conversation, sharing and working together. But I do know that boasting, refusal to listen and engage, and “putting one’s foot down” based on political ideology from whatever spectrum will not feed our children’s bodies or minds today and will not raise our nation to its potential in years to come.

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Demystifying “Well-Being”

Posted by lboyd544 on June 9, 2012

(Readers: Welcome back!  We have been off line several weeks moving server and updating company website and blog.)

Everyone in the child welfare field is very familiar with the 3-prong-focus for foster youth on safety, permanency, and well-being. Many states have made significant improvements for custody youth over the past 2-4 years in safety and permanency measures. With the support of the Federal Government, adoptions by kin and non-kin are at an all time high.

Kudos to the Obama Administration on Children and Family Services (ACYF) for their focus now on ‘well-being’. That formerly elusive goal is now described in a formal Information Memorandum (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/laws_policies/…/im/2012/im1204.pdf) and further supported by waiver and grant opportunities for states to consider.

Advocates and providers must encourage their state child welfare entities to apply for these programs ASAP. The numbers of awards are limited. Indeed, public child welfare in all states ‘have their hands full’; however, each day in a foster child’s life potentially determines that child’s long-term future. We must be watchful to not let bureacratic schedules and agendas to supersede the obligation to well-being and to an investment in foster youth learning to create sustainable personal and professional relationships. This must our first focus!

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