It’s Time to Realign Child Welfare Financing Structure to Support the Outcomes We Want for Children and Families
On July 29th the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support held a hearing on how child welfare waiver demonstration projects can be used to promote child well-being. Rutledge Q. Hutson testified at that hearing arguing that reauthorizing child welfare waiver authority is insufficient to alter the outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system. Instead, Ms. Hutson argued that we need comprehensive financing reform - reform that will both infuse new resources into and redirect resources within the child welfare system to provide needed services and supports that keep children out of foster care whenever safely possible. At the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman McDermott and Ranking Member Linder expressed interest in what comprehensive financing reform would entail and requested all witnesses to provide supplemental testimony outlining their ideas for such reform. The following are excerpts from Ms. Hutson's supplemental testimony.
The vast majority of federal support for child welfare is available only after harm has occurred and children are removed from their families. The single largest federal child welfare source of funding generally cannot be used to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring nor to intervene when it is still possible to keep a child safely at home.
While Fostering Connections took many critical steps towards improving outcomes for children who enter foster care, it did relatively little to try to prevent children from needing to enter foster care in the first place. There was broad recognition that the more difficult challenge of realigning the financing structures to prevent abuse and neglect and avoid foster care when possible remained.
CLASP believes there are three broad components of comprehensive financing reform:
- Expanding Title IV-E funds to support the full continuum of services needed by children who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing child abuse and neglect.
- Increasing support to enhance the child welfare workforce.
- Increasing accountability - both fiscal accountability and accountability for the outcomes children and families experience.