Child Welfare in the News

‘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.

Being incarcerated as a Juvenile tied to poor health later

Andrew, M. Seaman, Reuters, Jan 23, 2017
People incarcerated as juveniles may have worse physical and mental health as adults than youths who did not spend time in detention centers or correctional facilities, according to a new study.


Young Victims of the Opioid Epidemic

Editorial Board, New York Times, January  16, 2017
Officials cited parental substance abuse as a reason for removing children from families in 32.2 percent of cases in 2015, up from 28.5 percent in 2012. But these numbers very likely understate the problem, because local officials often fail to report drug and alcohol abuse and list most cases under the broad category of “parental neglect.”

Dozens of women and children rescued in human-trafficking sweep in California that nets 474 arrests

Joseph Serna, Los Angeles Times,  February 2, 2017
A multi-agency crackdown on human trafficking in California last week ended with hundreds of arrests and dozens of victimized women and children being rescued, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced.

A Bridge to Child Care for Foster Kids in California

Tim Morrison, Youth Today, October 5, 2016
In today’s economy, most potential caregivers work outside the home. In order for them to step up and take in a foster child, they need access to child care during their working hours. Unfortunately, with California child care costs hovering around $1,100 per month for the youngest children, many prospective foster parents cannot afford to cover the cost of child care.

Better Integrating Behavioral Health, Juvenile Justice Systems Will Rescue More Kids

Jeffrey J. Venderploeg, Juvenile Justice Information Exhchange, October 10, 2016
A multisite study conducted by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice reported that among youth involved in the juvenile justice system: 70 percent met criteria for a mental health disorder, 40 percent met criteria for a substance use disorder, and 90 percent had been exposed to one or more traumatic events (such as abuse, neglect or witnessing violence).


The New Focus on Children’s Mental Health

Emily Golderber, The Atlantic, October 17, 2016
With a lack of mental-health professionals placed in schools, the responsibility to address the needs of children with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges often falls on classroom teachers. This amplifies the call to incorporate learning that focuses on students’ mental health and well-being into daily classroom activities—something that can be beneficial for all children, not just those with diagnosable conditions.

For the first time, California releases test scores for foster youth –  and they’re not good

Joy Resmovits, LA Times, September 22, 2016
For the first time, California education officials have separated out the standardized test scores of the state’s foster youth — and advocates now have sobering proof of what they long suspected: These students are learning far less than their peers. Foster students also had somewhat lower rates of participation on the tests.

San Jose’s family-friendly court part of national trend


Tracey Kaplan, East Bay Times, Sept. 25, 2016
Last month, the dilapidated Terraine courthouse and five other rundown courthouses in San Jose were replaced by the new $208 million Family Justice Center Courthouse — one of only a few in the nation devoted solely to cases involving families and children. The new building is part of a national trend of providing a homier environment for people seeking to mend lives unraveled by divorce, addiction or mental illness.


California changes laws so children can no longer be prostitutes

Ellen Wulfhorst, KFGO, September 27, 2016
Children will no longer be classified as prostitutes in the U.S. state of California after a new law decriminalized prostitution for minors in a move praised by child rights campaigners. Coming on the back of a public campaign coined “There is No Such Thing” as a child prostitute, crimes of solicitation and prostitution will no longer apply to anyone aged under 18.