Dollars and Priorities


The Family First Prevention Services Act: A Mixed Bag of Reform

Earlier this month, the federal Family First Prevention Services Act (H.R. 5456) was finally introduced after more than a year of hearings and behind-the-scenes work by Congressional staff. The bill has two main purposes: to bolster federal investments to prevent entries into foster care, and to reduce the number of children and youth who are placed in congregate care settings.


To Prevent Child Abuse: Replace the “Public Health Approach” with a Social Justice Approach

Consider two approaches to working with troubled children and families. Approach #1 is embodied in a paragraph from a column in The Chronicle in which the author cites what she sees as barriers to working with children in foster care: “When foster parents said they could not, and our overworked paraprofessionals were unavailable, I had to take my clients to the doctor, dentist, therapist and for family visits.


In Support of Prevention Funding, But Not at the Expense of Children in Foster Care

As I mentioned in a prior piece in this series, the federal child welfare advocacy community increasingly seems myopically focused on increasing federal funding for “prevention.” Unfortunately, few, if any, are able to paint a picture of what increased investment in prevention would look like.


Child Abuse: The Not-Really-All-That-Shocking Truth

Imagine you read an article that began like this: “A reckoning is coming in gerontology. New studies show that when a group of 95-year-olds is followed for five years, a greater proportion die than when they are followed for only one.”


Our Inadequate Response to an Underestimated Problem

If we found out a public health crisis was three to four times greater than previously known, how quickly would Congress authorize emergency spending to combat it? I certainly hope it would not wait for the next budget debate, or make the response budget neutral.


The $2 Billion Question: Why Haven’t We De-Linked?

Every time I explain federal child welfare financing to someone for the first time – whether it be a student or a Congressional staffer – I have the same experience. I start by saying that the federal government doesn’t actually run a child welfare system, but instead establishes requirements and standards for state and county-based systems and then provides funding to put those standards into practice.


The IV-E “Look back” Is a Bureaucratic Nightmare; Here’s Why We Should Keep It

Suppose for a moment you’re on a runaway train. It’s out of control, the speed keeps increasing and there’s a sharp bend in the tracks ahead. But the only brake on the train is a clumsy, complicated contraption that only Rube Goldberg could love.

Blogger Co-op


You Can’t Have Child Protection Without Family Preservation

I appreciate the opportunity to debate child welfare finance with Sean Hughes in the Chronicle. But I am disappointed that in his introduction to the latest installment, Daniel Heimpel chose to repeat what I view as The Big Lie of American child welfare – the idea that child protection and family preservation are at odds.


Block Grants Are Funding Suicide

If you read my first piece in this series on Title IV-E waivers, which are essentially short-term block grants, you can probably guess that I think converting Title IV-E into a block grant would be a terrible idea.