Child Welfare in the News

Fewer US children in foster care; first drop since 2012

Star Tribune, October 24, 2019
The number of children in the U.S. foster care system has dropped for the first time since 2012, stemming a surge that was linked to substance abuse by parents, according to new federal data released on Thursday.

HUD Awards $1.5 Million to Public Housing Authorities to Assist Young People Agining Out of Foster Care, October 31, 2019
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson today awarded $1.5 million to nearly a dozen housing authorities to assist young people aging out of foster care and who are at risk of experiencing homelessness. See chart below.

How to Prepare Foster Care Adolescents for Post-Secondary Education

Youth Today, November 4, 2019
Access to post-secondary education is a common goal for many adolescents. Appropriate assistance from a knowledgeable adult is critical for successful navigation of the challenging post-secondary education preparation process, therefore vital in achieving access to higher education.

How (and Why) to Become a Foster Parent

New York Times Parenting, September 30, 2019
The licensing process – and the training, home visits and court dates – can be intimidating. This blog lists recommendations and what you need to know.

New California law grants foster children new rights while limiting some parental control

WBUR, September 9, 2019
Under the recently approved changes, foster children now have the right to receive or decline abortion healthcare services for sexual assault without the consent of any adult, the right to keep phone calls and electronic communication confidential, unless prohibited by a court order, and the right to be referred to by their foster parent by their name and gender pronoun of preference.

Suicide attempts rising among black youths, especially girls: study

Suicide attempts among black teens, especially black girls, has risen at an alarming rate, say researchers.

New York Daily news, October 14, 2019
Suicide attempts among black teens, especially black girls, has risen at an alarming rate, say researchers who cite such factors as childhood abuse, racial discrimination and disparities in mental health treatment.

Bill Would Allow Some Parents Charged with Crimes to Stay With Their Kids

California Health Report, September 3, 2019
A bill making its way through the state legislature aims to make it easier for parents charged with certain crimes to stay with their kids. If passed, SB 394 would allow courts to establish a diversion system for primary caregivers of children under 18. Instead of incarceration, eligible parents would complete rehabilitation requirements ordered by a judge.

'Do I Have To Leave Now?': Our Foster Care System Makes it Too Easy to Give Up On Kids

(Vlad Tchompalov/Unsplash)

WBUR, September 9, 2019
The average foster child is moved three times over the course of their placement. Some are moved more than 10. Foster children need a sense of permanency. They need advocacy. Not just when they are honor students making us proud. But when they make mistakes.

Toxic childhood experiences could lead to poor health later, but BYU study says neighbors, teachers, others can be the cure

Deseret News, September 18, 2019
Good neighbors, caring teachers, even positive rituals like regular meals and bedtimes can help counter the impact of adverse childhood experiences.

California Bill Seeks to Ensure New Rights for LGBTQ Foster Youth

The Chronicle of Social Change, August 8, 2019
A new bill moving through the California state legislature aims to ensure LGBTQ foster youth won't have to endure discrimination from their foster families.

Motels as homeless shelters? More local governments are housing people in motel rooms

According to a 2018 annual report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, roughly 553,000 people experienced homelessness on any given night last year. Los Angeles County is just one of several areas across the country that, with the help of nonprofit organizations and developers, has begun renovating or leasing motel rooms as a way to uplift its homeless population. The Reno Motel in Los Angeles is one of these.

USA Today, August 14, 2019
Los Angeles County is just one of several areas across the country that, with the help of nonprofit organizations and developers, has begun renovating or leasing motel rooms as a way to shelter its homeless population.

Governor's 'Mental Health Czar' Seeks New Blueprint for Care in California

Thomas Insel

Kaiser Health News, August 29, 2019
Thomas Insel ssumed a new role to help Gov. Gavin Newsom revamp mental health care in the state. Newsom called Insel his “mental health czar,” though his position is unpaid and Insel says it grants him “no authority.”

Kids Count shows housing burden, poverty pose risks for children in America

The Press-Enterprise, July 22, 2019
A new Kid County study released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation examining the state of youth nationwide shows that while overall child well-being has improved in 30 years, poverty and high housing costs threaten their stability.

As Los Angeles Schools Combine Counselors for Foster, Homeless Students, Advocates Worry Services will Suffer

The 74, July 30, 2019
The district is combining five specialized student programs together -- including the Foster Youth Achievement Program and the Homeless Education Program -- which officials say will streamline counseling services for L.A. Unified's highest-need pupils.

Trump administration cuts legal funding for victims of human trafficking

The Washington Post, August 2, 2019
President Trump's administration has mandated that federal funds used to help human trafficking victims clear their criminal records, often accrued while forced into prostitution or sex slavery, no longer be spent for that purpose.

CA Ranks 35th in Child Well-Being; High Housing Costs Partly to Blame

A new report shows 21% of California children live in families where the head of household lacks a high school diploma, an improvement of 5% over 2010. (ulkare/iStockphotos)

Public News Sevice, June 17, 2019
A new report ranks California 35th in the nation for overall child well-being - a slight improvement over last year. The 2019 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed the state has made great strides in health but still lags in economic well-being

Graduating from college still a struggle for many California foster youth

San Jose Mercury News, July 1, 2019
Miguel Almodóvar, a former foster youth, graduated from California State University this May, but he and others share concerns that so many foster youth are finding the obstacles to graduating college insurmountable.

City Receives $9.3M State Grant to Combat Human Trafficking

S.F. Gate, July 10, 2019
The state of California has granted San Francisco $9.3 million to help house and provide services for young people who have survived or at risk of being trafficked.

No More Heartbreak? California Governor Newsom Moves to Boost Funding for Dependency Courts

The Chronicle of Social Change, May 9, 2019
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a proposed $54 million boost to the budget of the state’s dependency courts, blending an increase in state investment with federal funds newly available for the legal representation of children and families involved in the child welfare system.

Bold plan to tackle SF's crisis on the streets calls for guaranteed mental health treatment

San Francisco Chronicle, May 28, 2019
San Franciscans will likely be asked a groundbreaking question on the November ballot: Should all city residents be guaranteed the right to quick, effective mental health care?

Foster Care System Struggles to Implement New Law

A new state law requires finding homes for all kids in foster care. But locally, there aren't enough families willing to take in foster children.

NPR - KAZU, June 6, 2019
Under new reforms, statewide capacity for finding permanent homes for children in foster care has been challenged. Monterey County’s Family and Children’s Services says, so far, there aren’t enough families willing to take in foster children, and they need to find a new approach to find foster families.

State Surgeon General's Prescription for a Healthy Sacramento: Alleviating Childhood Trauma

The Sacramento Bee, April 3, 2019
California Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, contends that residents of Sacramento, and California in general, are grappling with the long-term impact of childhood trauma on their families and neighborhoods. Dr. Burke Harris met with 100 Sacramento-area residents to find ways to better deal with the toxic stress.

The Kids Aren't All Right: How the Housing Crisis Hurts the Bay Area's Youngest Residents

San Jose Mercury News, April 8, 2019
As high prices and a shortage of available housing continue to squeeze local families, issues that once were the purview of adults, such as rent control and just-cause eviction protection, increasingly are entering the vocabulary of Bay Area kids.

A $22 Million Plan to Connect California Foster Youth with Free Phones and Internet

The Chronicle of Social Change, April 18, 2019
A new pilot project would extend a free smartphone – complete with a calling plan, wireless service and a mobile hotspot – to about 33,000 current and former foster youth between the ages of 13 and 26. The $22 million plan is now backed by the head of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Indian Child Welfare Act likely headed to Supreme Court: Fate of Native Children May Hinge on U.S. Adoption Case

Stateline March 12
Stateline, March 12, 2019
A case before a federal appeals court could upend an historic adoption law meant to combat centuries of brutal discrimination against American Indians and keep their children with families and tribal communities.

More mothers are ending up behind bars.

The Rikers Island prison complex houses jails in New York City.

CNN, March 18, 2019
There has been an increase of more than 800% in female inmates over nearly 40 years. That is more than double the pace of growth among men. When those women are mothers, the fallout can be far-reaching because women tend to be the primary caregivers for their children.

'A Pileup of Inequities': Why People of Color Are Hit Hardest by Homelessness

Stateline March29

Stateline, March 29, 2019
People of color are disproportionately represented among the homeless, with blacks and Native Americans experiencing the highest rates among those groups. Poverty alone doesn’t account for the stark inequities, researchers say, because the number of black and Native people who are homeless exceeds their proportion of people living in deep poverty.

California Looks to Lead Nation In Unraveling Childhood Trauma

California Healthline, March 4, 2019
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, California's newly appointed surgeon general, will tell you this is not a hypothetical scenario. She is a leading voice in a movement trying to transform our understanding of how the traumatic experiences that affect so many American children can trigger serious physical and mental illness.

Child Trends Introduces New Tool in Comparable Child Welfare Data

Chronicle of Social Change, March 8, 2019
Child Trends has released a new tool that offers browsers a robust collection of data around child maltreatment, foster care, kinship caregivers and adoption for all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. The figures are drawn from the most recent Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report, the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources. All the information is pegged to national trendlines for comparison purposes.

A Rise in Depression Among Teens and Young Adults Could be Linked to Social Media Use

NPR, March 14, 2019
A new study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology shows that a rise in depression and stress among young people parallels the growth in smartphone and social media use.

Children Win with Feds' Policy Reversal Supporting Legal Representation

Children win with feds’ policy reversal supporting legal representation
The Hill, February 2, 2019
The Children's Bureau (CB) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently issued an important policy reversal, allowing federal dollars to flow to states to help pay for legal representation of children in child welfare cases. Federal law has always allowed for this, but previous policy explicitly prohibited drawing down money for it.

More than 12,000 California Youth Homeless, What's Being Done to Change That? (Commentary)

Chronicle of Social Change, Feb 11, 2019
As the homeless youth population declines nationwide, California remains the state with the highest population of people experiencing homelessness overall and the highest number of unaccompanied homeless youth, according to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A Record Number of Babies Have Been Surrendered in California. Some Say That's 'Hopeful' 

Fresno Bee, February 22, 2019
The number of illegally abandoned baby cases has dropped and slowed over time. The last three years on record show that out of just nine abandoned babies, all survived.

Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom will propose almost $2 billion for early childhood programs

The Los Angeles Times, Jan 2, 2019
Newsom has proposed $1.5 billion as a one-time expense in the budget year that begins July 1. Those dollars would be a single infusion of cash. Most of the money would be spent on efforts to expand child-care services and kindergarten classes.

San Diego approves first 'hybrid dormitory' near SDSU to alleviate housing scarcity

The San Diego Union-Tribune, Jan 15, 2019
In an effort to help solve the scarcity of student housing near San Diego State University, the City Council on Monday unanimously approved the first “hybrid dormitory” for the campus. The 128-room apartment complex will be privately owned and is not affiliated with the university, but supported by the city.

40% of Americans only one missed paycheck away from poverty

CBS News, January 29, 2019
The findings, from economic advocacy group Prosperity Now, highlight the financial insecurity facing many U.S. households, as was seen during the recent government shutdown. Thousands of furloughed government workers, who missed two paychecks, struggled to cover basics like housing and food.

New Rules Could Open More Homes to Foster Kids

Stateline Dec5, December 5, 2018
A shortage of affordable housing in many places is exacerbating problems caused by increased numbers of children entering foster care and a shortage of the number of foster parents available to take them in. But some foster care advocates hope new federal guidelines will make it easier for many foster care parents to get licensed, giving a boost to recruiting efforts, particularly among extended family members.

Not For Sale: Fighting Sex Trafficking As Super Bowl Nears

The Patch, December 17, 2018
An Atlanta-based faith organization dedicated to eradicating child sex trafficking is using technology to help victims of the crime receive help and even prevent them from entering what could be a lifetime of degradation and tragedy.

Slandering the Unborn (Opinion)

New York Times Editorial Board, December 28, 2018
News organizations shoulder much of the blame for the moral panic that cast mothers with crack addictions as irretrievably depraved and the worst enemies of their children. The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek and others further demonized black women “addicts” by wrongly reporting that they were giving birth to a generation of neurologically damaged children who were less than fully human and who would bankrupt the schools and social service agencies once they came of age.

Substance Abuse Impacts Foster Care, Adoption New "AFCARS" data released

Administration for Children and Families, November 18, 2018
AFCARS found 442,995 youth living in foster care in 2017, an increase of about 6,500 from the 2016 total. Even though entries into care declined slightly in 2017, fewer youth exited care. Of the 15 categories states can report for the circumstances associated with a child’s removal from home and placement into care, drug abuse by a parent had the largest percentage point increase.

The juvenile justice system is stacked against poor families

The Washington Post,  November 20, 2018
After absorbing the shock of a child’s arrest, families often must navigate a perilous system of fines and fees, all while making critical decisions about their child’s case. And if a juvenile defendant’s family can’t afford the fees, they may pay a far steeper price: loss of freedom until the debt is settled.

California's Foster Youth Struggle in Transition to Adulthood

California Health Report, November 28, 2018
According to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which draws together state and national data on foster youth transitioning to adulthood, California’s transition age youth fare slightly better than the national average when it comes to finding a job and graduating from high school. But data shows that many foster youth aren’t receiving the support they need to create stable lives once they leave foster care, and are less likely to receive a high school diploma or GED than their peers who haven’t been in foster care.

California's Children Fall Behind Before they Start School, and Some Never Catch Up

Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2018
Researchers argue that if California wants to improve student achievement in schools, it has to start much earlier so that children are prepared when they show up for kindergarten.

California Governor Signs Off on Sweeping Juvenile Justice Legislation

Chronicle of Social Change, October 1, 2018
Brown endorsed a bill that will prevent the transfer of 14- and 15-year-olds into adult criminal court; provide internet access for youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system; bar children ages 11 and younger from the jurisdiction of the juvenile court; and limit the amount of time youth who are deemed mentally incompetent can spend in juvenile halls, among other legislation.

Court Strikes Down Native American Adoption Law, Say it Discriminates Against Non-Native Americans

The Washington Post, October 10, 2018
The landmark law governing adoptions of Native American children, designed to keep them within Native American families, has been struck down as unconstitutional by a federal judge in Texas.

Lynn Johnson Confirmed as Top Trump Child Welfare Official

Chronicle of Social Change, September 4, 2018
Lynn Johnson was confirmed to lead the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) just before the Labor Day weekend. Johnson was the executive director of the Jefferson County Department of Human Services.

Bad Breaks Early in Life Often Weave an Inescapable Web for People in Poverty

No Outlet road sign beside brown concrete buildings

The Philadelphia Tribune, September 9, 2018
The Philadephia Tribune pulls back the lens on the circumstances beyond individual control, such as hunger and racism, that limit educational and economic mobility.

The Number of Youth in Juvenile Detention in California Has Quietly Plummeted

Voice of San Diego, September 13, 2018
In the past decade, the number of children behind bars decreased so dramatically that in San Diego County – and across the state – juvenile halls and camps stand at unprecedented levels of emptiness.

The Price of Justice: The High Cost of 'Free' Counsel for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

The Price of Justice: The High Cost of 'Free' Counsel for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

Philanthropy News Digest, August 27. 2018
This report found that forty states have laws that permit or even require courts to charge for public defenders. The fees push families — who can be held in contempt of court, receive a civil judgment, or receive liens against their properties if they can't pay — into debt, forces youth deeper into the justice system, and jeopardizes the constitutionality of juvenile court proceedings.

Childhood trauma brings its own health problems for foster families

The Washington Post, September 1, 2018
Kids suffer trauma from the circumstances that led to foster care in the first place, but they also experience the grief of being separated from their primary attachment.

Training for Parents Referred to CPS Improves Toddler's Physiological Regulation

Science Magazine, August 28, 2018
A parental training program for families referred to Child Protective Services improved toddlers' unconscious reactions to mildly stressful situations, as well as improving parents' behavior, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis and the University of Washington.

Empowering Kids in An Anxious World

Cory Turner, NPREd, July 18, 2018
Rates of anxiety and depression among teens in the U.S. have been rising for years. According to one study, nearly one in three adolescents (ages 13-18) now meets the criteria for an anxiety disorder.

Orange County Opens First-Ever Emergency Program for Female Human Trafficking Survivors

San Diego Union-Tribune, August 3, 2018
A first-of-its-kind emergency program to support female survivors of human trafficking opened in Orange County this summer, offering shelter beds as well as specially tailored healthcare, case management and education assistance services.

Diagnosing Depression in Young Kids is Harder, Incredibly Important

Joshua A. Krisch, Daily Magazine, August 14, 2018
Experts agree that preschoolers are entirely capable of suffering from clinical depression. And that this depression is not always the result of abuse or neglect. Depression in small children works in much the same way as it does in teenagers and adults, studies suggest.