Child Welfare in the News

As Opioid crisis strains foster care, states aren’t tracking the damage

Byard Duncan, Reveal News, January 8, 2018
Directly connecting child removals to the source of the problem is nearly impossible. That’s because there’s no way to specify opioids – or any other drug – as a contributing factor in several states’ electronic child welfare databases.

America: The Most Dangerous Wealthy Nation for Kids

Todd Zwillich, WNYC, January 10, 2018
A new study out this week finds that a child born in the United States has a 70 percent greater chance of dying before adulthood as compared to 19 other wealthy, democratic countries.

Sheila Kuehl Charts Path for Nation’s Largest Child Welfare System

Daniel Heimpel, Chronicle of Social Change, January 25, 2018
Interview with Sheila Kueh, the current chair of Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors. The responsibilities of Kueh’s prominent position include shaping child welfare policy in ways that will not only have an impact in L.A., but nationally.

California Won’t Jail Children For Being Poor. Will Other States Follow?

Nila Bala, Newsweek, December 30, 2017
California is scrapping juvenile administrative fees altogether in an effort to protect low-income families and children. The Justice Department, however, is standing in the way of repeal on a national scale.

Can an Algorithm Tell When Kids Are in Danger?

Dan Hurley, New York Times,  January 2, 2018
A detailed analysis of child welfare cases in Allegheny County, PA showed alarming trends in data analysis: 8 percent of the lowest-risk families were being screened into the child welfare system, while 27 percent of the highest-risk families were being screened out. Two researchers  looked at dozens of data points and built an algorithm to analyze the county data.

Young, gay and living on the street: LGBT Youth face increased odds of homelessness

Carolyn Jones, Edsource, January 6, 2018
In California, the number of homeless children in K-12 schools overall has jumped 20 percent from 2014-15 to 2016-17, and while state data does not identify whether any of these students are LGBT, youth homeless experts said gay students are disproportionately represented.

‘Nowhere to Sleep’: Los Angeles Sees Increase in Young Homeless

Anna Scott, NPR News, October 23, 2017
The latest homeless count in Los Angeles showed a 64 percent increase in the number of 18- to 24-year-olds on the streets since last year, to a total of nearly 6,000. Many of these children are former foster youth and local officials say that foster care often doesn’t provide the stability people need to successfully step into adulthood.

What’s Foster Care Like? Learn From the Youth Who Lived Through It 

Rachel Myrow, KQED, October 25, 2017
The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History invited a team of former foster youth and advocates to help put an exhibit together on the lives foster youth in California entitled “Lost Childhoods.” The exhibition runs through Dec. 31st, 2017.

Police: ‘Every 16-year-old girl in Fresno’ has been targeted by sex trade recruiters

Rory Appleton, Fresno Bee,  November 9, 2017
Human trafficking is a widespread concern that advocates and law enforcement officials say is on the rise throughout Fresno. Three women tell their stories of horror, survival and healing.

12,000 California youth are homeless. Politicians say they want to change that.

Rina Palta, KPCC, October 11, 2017
Over 12,000 young people are homeless in California on any given night, and a group of state lawmakers is looking for ways to tackle the growing problem.

Born Addicted: The Number of Opioid-Addicted Babies is Soaring

Hannah Rappleye, McHugh, Farrow, October 9, 2017
Increasing numbers of women of childbearing age struggle with opioid addiction. Nationally, the rate of American children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a set of symptoms experienced by babies exposed to drugs in the womb, has quadrupled over the past 15 years.

Wyden and Hatch Push Bill to Make Foster Care More Accountable

Kristian Foden-Vencil, KUOW,  October 17, 2017
The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee have come together to introduce a bill that would publicize more information about private foster care providers.

New SAMHSA Materials Inform Families About Mental Health Disorders

SAMHSA,  September 1, 2017
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created a suite of educational materials to help caregivers and youth learn about the symptoms and treatment options for a variety of mental health disorders, as well as where to find support services.

For Low-Income Drug Users, Medi-Cal Offers a Fresh Start

Anna Gorman, KHN, September 8, 2017
As the opioid epidemic burns a path of devastation through communities across the nation, California is leading the way in revamping treatment for low-income residents.

One in Five Californians Live in Poverty

Lisa Pickoff-White and Erika Aguilar, KQED, September 13, 2017
A greater share of people live in poverty in California than in any other state, according to a measure used by the U.S. Census Bureau that takes into account the cost of living and government assistance programs.

Youths in Foster System Get Care Until Age 21, but Struggles Persist

Nina Agrawal, LA Times,  August 12, 2017
In fiscal year 2015-16, Children and Family Services spent about $91 million on extended foster care in Los Angeles County. Although the program’s success has been uneven, the vast majority of eligible teenagers — about 80% in L.A. County — choose to remain in care.

Sentenced to Adulthood: Direct File Laws Bypass Juvenile Justice System

Renata Sago, NPR, August 15, 2017
Direct File statutes dates back to juvenile justice reform from the 1950s, when lawmakers were seeking to balance rehabilitation and punishment of youths who had committed heinous crimes.

America Must do More to Help Family Members of Incarcerated

Tiffany McFadden, USA Today, August 25, 2017
More than half of the people who are incarcerated have children under the age of 18, including more than 120,000 mothers and 1.1 million fathers. Two-thirds of these parents are serving time for non-violent offenses.

Mental Illness and Homelessness are Connected. But Not How You Might Think

Gale Holland, LA Times,  August 7, 2017
Local authorities estimate that 30% of the county’s homeless people have serious mental illness, many experts assert the figure is much higher.

‘Pay For Success’ Approach Used to Fund a Program that Supports New Moms

Michelle Andrews, NPR, August 9, 2017
A private-public initiative, Nurse-Family Partnership, is underway to increase the number of young women who need help with child rearing that it serves by 3,200.

Why Immigration Policy Should Matter to Youth-Serving Systems

Marie N. Williams, JJIE, August 9, 2017
The tenor of the national immigration policy debate rarely, if ever, touched on the effect that draconian immigration policy may have on children who are at risk of, or already involved in, the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Why does bullying cost California schools $276 million every year?

Carolyn Wilke, Sacramento Bee,  July 11, 2017
While school bullying has been widely condemned for harming students’ emotional health, a new study calculates the financial cost to school districts: $276 million annually in California.

Drawing a Larger Circle Around Families

Naomi Scheifer Riley, Philanthropy Magazine, July 14, 2017
Safe Families—a program in which families volunteer to host children in difficult situations while their parents get matters at home under control, has shown promising results for families with children at risk of entering foster care.

Nonprofits Search for Asian-American Foster Parents to Fill Culture, Language Needs

Monica Luhar, NBC News, July 24, 2017
Nonprofits in Los Angeles are looking for more Asian-American foster parents to serve the county’s foster children with a particular focus on language ability and cultural understanding.

New California Budget Includes $31 Million to Support Foster Parents with Child Care

Jeremy Loudenback, Chronicle of Social Change, June 19, 2017
Passed by legislators on June 15th, the 2017 budget sets aside money for the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program, which would provide child care vouchers to foster parents and parenting foster youth for children ages 0 to 5 living with them.

The Opioid Crisis is Straining the Nation’s Foster Care System

Perry Stein and Lindsey Bever, The Washington Post, July 1, 2017
Trends in Maine and Massachusetts are echoed in foster-care systems throughout the country, especially in rural areas that have been hit hard by addiction. Many are becoming overwhelmed as the opioid crisis has forced more and more children into state custody.

A Hidden Population: Youth Homelessness is on the Rise

Teresa Wiltz, Pew Charitable Trusts, July 7, 2017
Youth homelessness is on the rise across the country, in Atlanta, Seattle, San Diego and elsewhere. Young homeless people are at risk for a host of troubles with long lasting impact including substance abuse and sexual exploitation. Many get caught up in the criminal justice system. Up to 40 percent of homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Foster Care: Underfunded

Sarah Craig, KCRW, June 9, 2017
LA County has thousands of foster care children. Advocates say the state’s budget hasn’t kept pace with need, when it comes to funding for providers and legal counsel. The state budget deadline is June 15th and advocates are pushing for $22 million more in funding for dependency counseling.

How Foster Youth Shadow Day Helped Me Find Peace

Ruth Contreras-Arnold, Teen Vogue, June 13, 2017
In this op-ed, Ruth Contreras-Arnold explains what it’s like to be in the foster care system, and how a day on Capitol Hill empowered her.

Pregnant and Addicted to Heroin, with Nowhere to Turn for Help

Stephanie Dubick, Broadly, June 15, 2017
As the American opioid epidemic rages, pregnant women with addiction issues are being forced to choose between seeking health care and avoiding arrest.

They Call Us Monsters: A New Lense on Teens Facing Life in Prison

Sarah Craig, KQED News, May 20, 2017
Filmmaker Ben Lear had been visiting “The Compound,” a high-security facility where Los Angeles houses its most violent juvenile criminals. When he heard about the bill, he joined forces with screenwriter Gabriel Cowan to produce the documentary “They Call Us Monsters.”

Foster Kids Spend the Day Shadowing California Members of Congress

Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2017
More than 100 other young people participated in the Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program in a speech on the House floor. Rep. Karen Bass started the Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program six years ago.

Break the Sad Cycle of Foster Kids Having Foster Kids

Alexis Barries, Fresno Bee Opinion, June 5, 2017
Juvenile justice reform cannot happen without child welfare as an engaged partner. Research has demonstrated that as many as two-thirds of youth involved in the juvenile justice system have a maltreatment background.

A California Court for Young Adults Calls on Science

Tim Requarth, New York Times, April 17, 2017
San Francisco’s Young Adult Court offers youth with felony charges an alternative to traditional, punitive, court proceedings. For about a year, the youth attend weekly therapy sessions and life-skills classes. Court administrators coordinate employment, housing and education support for them.

California Needs More Foster Homes, Incentives for Foster Parents


Jennifer Rexroad, Sacramento Bee, May 1, 2017
California is in dire need of more foster homes. In Los Angeles County, the number of foster homes decreased from more than 8,000 in 2005 to fewer than 4,000 in 2015; and the need for new foster homes is increasing.The Emergency Child Care Bridge Program, Assembly Bill 1164, would provide an emergency child care voucher to give foster parents immediate access to child care.

Why Juvenile Justice Reform Needs Child Welfare at the Table

Melissa Blom, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, May 15, 2017
Juvenile justice reform cannot happen without child welfare as an engaged partner. Research has demonstrated that as many as two-thirds of youth involved in the juvenile justice system have a maltreatment background.

Managing the Flow: Predictive Analytics in Child Welfare

Daneil Heimpel,  Chronicle of Social Change, April 6, 2017
Beyond saving time for the countless hotline workers across the LA county who receive over 600 calls a day, predictive analytics promises to help this harried workforce better understand which children are in danger of abuse. This, proponents of the practice argue, allows child protection systems to better target those cases that should be investigated.

Supply-Side Economics, but for Liberals

Neil Irwin, New York Times, April 15, 2017
According to an emerging body of research, certain social welfare policies that support expansion of the safety-net,, may actually encourage more people to work and enable them to do so more productively. That is the conclusion of work that aims to understand in granular detail how different government interventions affect people’s behavior. It amounts to a liberal version of “supply-side economics.”


May is National Foster Care Month

Children’s Bureau Express, May 2017
This year’s National Foster Care Month (NFCM) theme, “Empowering Caregivers, Strengthening Families,” highlights the importance of identifying, developing, and supporting prospective and current foster parents and kinship caregivers.

Bill aims to make being a foster parent easier

Rina Palta,  KPCC, March 29, 2017
AB 1104 would provide foster parents with immediate childcare for the young kids they take in. In Los Angeles and around the state, lack of child care is one issue that’s created a shortage of slots for babies and toddlers removed from their homes.

Want foster students to succeed in college? Bills make financial aid easier to get

Robin Opsahl, Sacramento Bee, March 17, 2017
State lawmakers are considering legislation to help foster youths navigate the college application process. Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, introduced Senate Bill 12 to require social workers to set up an application help network for foster youths interested in college. It also would coordinate systems to automatically verify applicants’ foster youth status when applying for federal Pell Grants.


April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Children’s Bureau Express, April 2017
Every April, the Children’s Bureau observes National Child Abuse Prevention Month to raise public awareness of child abuse and neglect, recommit efforts and resources aimed at protecting children and strengthening families, and promote community involvement through activities that support the cause. The theme of this year’s Child Abuse Prevention Month initiative continues to mirror the theme of the 20th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, “Building Community, Building Hope.”

Break up the family? White House weighs new border deterrent.

Harry Bruinius,  Christian Science Monitor, March 11, 2017
Violence in Central America has caused a surge in families requesting asylum. The Trump administration has confirmed it’s looking at bold moves to discourage them. But separating moms from kids may prove too draconian, and difficult.

Ventura County Tries An Alternative to Juvenile Hall

Claudia Boyd-Barrett, California Health Report, March 12, 2017
For youths on probation, clubs like the local Boys and Girls Club, act as Evening Reporting Centers, which provide an alternative to juvenile hall. Those assigned to the center by the Ventura County Probation Agency must attend the Boys & Girls Club’s Teen Center every day after school, usually for between 20 and 45 days.


Attorneys: More funding needed to help East Bay foster youths.

Malaika Fraley, East Bay Times, March 13, 2017
Because of state funding issues, attorneys at the East Bay Children’s Law Offices are finding it increasingly difficult to continue representing some 2,000 Alameda County children each year who have been orphaned or removed from their parents or guardians.

Why do more L.A. County black children end up in Foster Care? Experts clash over the reason.

Garrett Therolf, The L.A. Times, February 16, 2017
Black children account for eight out of 100 Los Angeles County children, yet they make up 28 out of 100 foster children, according to Department of Children and Family Services data. There are basically two theories, and the approach an agency takes to addressing the problem depends, at least in part, on which theory it accepts. One holds that social worker bias against black parents is to blame. The other argues that black children truly are victimized at higher rates.


Inside a mom’s months-long fight to get back her children

Garrett Therolf,  L.A. Times, February 16, 2017
Los Angeles County’s child abuse hotline receives a call every three minutes, on average. The calls are heavily concentrated in communities of South Los Angeles and the Antelope Valley where large numbers of black families reside, DCFS records show. Roughly one out of three black children in Los Angeles County is reported to the hotline by the time they are 5 years old, according to research by Emily Putnam-Hornstein, a professor at USC’s School of Social Work.

Superior Court officials blast 2017-18 California budget

Sam Richards, East Bay Times, February 21, 2017
Superior Court officers from 49 of California’s 58 counties are telling Gov. Jerry Brown the state’s courts will need substantially more money to preserve existing levels of service, which they say already have been hit hard by the requirements of recent voter-approved and legislative actions.