Child Welfare in the 21st Century

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Posts Tagged ‘families’

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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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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Election Day is upon us!

Posted by lboyd544 on October 31, 2012

Yesterday I attended a fascinating Forum sponsored by and for members of Leadership Oklahoma. The guest presenter for the afternoon was journalist Bill Bishop, author of the best selling book the Big Sort. In his book, Mr. Bishop uses demographic data from across the country to show how Americans have been sorting ourselves into extremely homogeneous communities in the past 30 years. Most disconcerting, he demonstrates how dangerous to the basic tenets of our country and to democracy this sorting is. We ‘sort’ on the basis of education, income, and lifestyle. We choose who and what we will believe, and we have become so ideologically inbred and polarized that we don’t understand or communicate with others who may live only blocks away, much less with those who are of different ethnic, religious, political, educational, or experiential backgrounds.

While we may think of the ‘world at our fingertips’ due to the advances of technology and the easy access to the web, smart phones, and TV channels, our worlds individually have actually shrunk to a few like-minded neighbors or civic groups who think like we do, choose like we do, and live like we do. As a result, extremism in ideology and politics has grown; tolerance of differences has diminished.

The most scary result of this sorting, which we see on any day of the year, is our inability as a nation to act collectively to tackle and resolve urgent challenges: budget, spending, health care, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and so on. The data supports this premise from Mr. Bishop that politics is no longer about solving the nation’s problems; it is about showing ideological commitment to a political party.

There is a crucial election next week. Will you vote on ideology? Will you educate yourself on the candidates thoroughly from various objective references, not your ‘favorites’? Will you study state questions that might be on your ballot?

Or will you vote, as we seem to be doing way too much, on innuendo, prejudice, emotion, party….fear….anger?

America is the land of opportunity. At least it was once. Yet if we are now ‘sorted’ and intolerant, and I believe we are, we must cast our votes for President and all candidates from a lens of who will listen to various voices, who will keep in mind those who seem to have no voice (the children, the poor…), and who will work from the center and reach out to all sides for discussion and consideration?

Sadly, being a ‘moderate’, i.e. governing from the middle, is rarely successful any more in elections. Ideology gets the money and the votes.

We need courageous and informed voters to secure our country’s future and to return us to a country welcoming differences as richness, not imposition. Please ‘go carefully into this dark night’.

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Expanding Medicaid for Parents Helps Children

Posted by lboyd544 on September 15, 2012

Expanding Medicaid to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for working (full-time or part-time) and for unemployed parents is good for kids!
 
  • 1- Expansion has the potential to cut the rate of uninsured kids by 40%.  Most of that reduction comes from covering their parents and enrolling eligible kids at the same time.
  • 2- Children are more likely to receive preventive care and other health care services that they need to be healthy and stay healthy if their parents also receive health care.
  • 3- Parents’ health can affect children’s health and well-being, such as their ability to get to school ready to learn.
Regardless of party, age, geography, ethnicity and any other demographic, we all believe that America’s kids should be able to enter school – and stay in school – healthy and ready to learn. The future leadership of our country depends on a healthy populace for business and finance success, for human services and education, for transportation and manufacturing, for law and politics, and for all sectors of our economy and our society.
Expanding Medicaid is good business and good community sense!

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Good Business (and Community) Sense – part 2

Posted by lboyd544 on September 10, 2012

Last week I talked about the new money for Oklahoma (and most states) through expansion of Medicaid to 113% Federal Poverty Level.  This week let’s ‘drill down’ on that.

  1. The Medicaid Expansion will help free up state and local spending that now goes to uncompensated care. State and local governments help offset the cost of care that is provided to uninsured patients who cannot afford to pay—paying an estimated 30% of the cost of uncompensated care. In Oklahoma, uncompensated care would be reduced from $886M annually to $277M, a drop of $609M or 69%. (figures from OHCA)
  2. The Medicaid Expansion will reduce state spending on mental health services for lower-income, uninsured patients. This includes spending on state mental hospitals, hospital emergency rooms and community health clinics. This spending has been growing over time, with state and local governments covering 42% of the cost of state mental health expenditures by 2009. Full Medicaid Expansion is estimated to save between $11 and $22 billion in funds states will otherwise spend on mental health programs from 2014-2019.
  3. The Medicaid Expansion will enable states to continue using health care provider assessments as part of their state matching funds. Although federal Medicaid funding to states is open-ended (i.e. a state entitlement), it is limited by a states’ ability to raise its matching share. Oklahoma has taken advantage of federal provisions that place assessments on hospitals and other health care providers that are then used to match (and draw down additional) federal dollars. In fact, this effort was led by the Oklahoma Hospital Association. Without the Medicaid Expansion, hospitals and other providers may be unwilling or unable to pay these assessments, resulting in the loss of federal funds and a negative impact state revenues.
  4. (One of my biggest concerns as a taxpayer!)The Medicaid Expansion will keep residents’ federal taxes flowing into our State. Almost every state resident pays federal taxes, and federal dollars will fund the Medicaid Expansion. Taxpayers residing in states that do not implement the Expansion will be paying out dollars to states that do expand, states like CA, CT, CO, DC, MN, MO, NJ, WA, which have already obtained approval for Medicaid Expansions.

Please talk to your legislators about this cost savings measure. This is more than ‘politics’ or Obamacare. This is about real money, real savings, ….real people!

More next week….

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Let’s not be short-sighted

Posted by lboyd544 on March 12, 2011

For several years we have been appropriately forewarned about the need to control the US federal debt. The current Administration provided important relief through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Some would say the Administration simply postponed the inevitable. Regardless, it is disingenuous to feign too much surprise that all states, except North Dakota and Alaska, face major budget challenges at this time.

The majority of Americans support that we get our fiscal house in order and cease from strangling future generations with this burden of debt. How we go about doing that is another matter of debate and great consternation to those of us who consider ourselves child and family advocates.

Current proposals to cut funding for WIC (Women, Infants, and Children supplemental food and health services program for low income families), Community Block Grants, Head Start, youth job training programs, community health centers, substance abuse treatment, and IDEA (funds for special education services) also threaten  those very future generations we propose to protect. If we deny our children – yes, they are our children – a sound foundation of health, education, housing, and individual opportunity, how do we expect them to have the skills to lead effectively, make decisions wisely and compassionately, and confront future challenges to society and government with determination when it becomes their turns at the reigns of this great country?

Why is production of more or new military weapons, including those recommended for elimination by Pentagon officials, so sacrosanct?  

Indeed, the America of tomorrow will need many of today’s youth as engineers, scientists, and members of our military ranks. We will also need doctors, teachers, nurses, and entrepreneurs.

The question is will they have those opportunities when we know today that developing young brains, encouraging healthy bodies, and providing stable  living environments are the keys to competent, secure and productive tomorrow?

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Unto the least of these……

Posted by lboyd544 on February 9, 2011

I, too, worry about the national debt and the legacy our grandchildren will face if we do not reverse our fiscal course. Yet, I cannot be comfortable with the proposed cuts announced yesterday from the House GOP: WIC cut of $378M, Community Services Block Grants $405M, Maternal and Child Health Block Grants $210M, Community Health Centers $1.3B.
I’m sure others have their own cuts that bring intense heartburn.
It is a tough, tough situation. WWJD?

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