California Child Advocates for Change is a coalition of legal and child welfare advocacy organizations, including the Alliance for Children’s Rights, that provide direct legal services to thousands of children, youth and families each year who are affected by the foster care systems. The lived experience of at-risk children and families informs both the direct service work and extensive involvement in systemic reform efforts of this coalition. Recognizing that California has a significant interest in the outcomes of any federal child welfare reform legislation, CA Child Advocates for Change has come together to help ensure that reforms being considered in Washington DC are fully informed by our state’s experiences, lessons, and leadership.
To this end, the coalition has released two policy briefs, focused on busting many of the myths that are driving federal reforms and providing the California experience as a road map for future reforms. The first brief, Are There Too Many Children In Foster Care, explores the drive the further reduce foster care caseloads and questions whether the priority should be caseload reduction or increasing supports and services to children regardless of whether a foster care entry is necessary. The goal of the brief is to help better align the federal policymaking process with the actual ground-level needs of the child welfare system, and hope that it helps illuminate the shortcomings inherent in policies reliant upon continued foster care caseload decline.
The second brief, Developing a Robust Continuum to Support Foster Youth in Family-Based Settings, details recent comprehensive reform efforts underway in California to reduce reliance on group care and bolster supports, services and funding to enable children to be raised in family settings. This brief is particularly relevant in light of the recent introduction of the Family First Prevention Services Act (H.R. 5456). The Family First Act and California’s CCR share the same goals, although, in practice, there are many elements of the Family First Act that undermine California’s efforts. This brief is aimed at informing the federal discussions and ensuring that the actual ground-level needs of the child welfare system are considered and reform efforts like California’s are bolstered as opposed to being curtailed.