Child Welfare in the News

Without Family, U.S. Children in Foster Care Easy Prey for Human Traffickers

Ellen Wulfhorst, Reuters,  May 3, 2018
Often removed from abusive or negligent families, girls and boys in foster care are at high risk, said Dorchen Leidholdt, legal center director at Sanctuary for Families, which advocates for domestic violence and sex trafficking survivors.

For the Babies of the Opioid Crisis, the Best Care May Be Mom's Recovery

Sarah Jane Tribble, May 10, 2018
The University of North Carolina Horizons Program is a residential substance use disorder treatment center where mothers can bring their children. The kids attend school or day care while mothers take classes and go to therapy sessions.

Opioid Epidemic Leaving Grandparents to Raise Grandchildren

Bill Whitaker, CBS News, May 13, 2018
More than one million American children now live with grandparents, primarily because of their parent's addiction to opioids and other drugs: heroin, crack, meth and alcohol. Grandparents are putting off retirement and plowing through savings to rescue their grandchildren from dangerous situations.

Disability, Race and Reasons: What We Know, and Don't Know, About Disparity in School Discipline

John Kelly, Chronicle of Social Change,  April 18, 2018
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report this month on school discipline with a topline finding that "black students, boys and students with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined (e.g., suspensions and expulsions) in K-12 public schools."

Creating Affordable Housing Opportunities Means Talking Equity

Tiffany Manuel & Nat Kendall-Taylor, SSIR, April 30, 2018
Today, millions of families across the country still struggle to afford a home that is safe, healthy, and connected to the resources they need: good schools, jobs that pay living wages, safe and reliable transportation, and high-quality health care

The City Trying 'Trauma Training' for Citizens -- and Cops

Simone Weichselbaum, The Marshall Project, May 1, 2018
In Newark, N.J., police have embarked on an experiment that they hope will calm tensions by immersing both cops and residents in uncomfortable truths about slavery and Jim Crow, coupled with lessons on epigenetics and trauma.

Millions Sought to Stem Arrests at California Foster Care Shelters

Karen de Sá, Cynthia Dizikes and Joaquin Palomino, San Francisco Chronicle  April 5, 2018
A California lawmaker is calling for $22.7 million in state funding to help prevent unwarranted arrests of abused and neglected children in the state’s residential foster-care facilities.

Sacramento's Quest to End Solitary Confinement for Kids

Molly McCluskey, Pacific Standard, April 5, 2018
After settling a lawsuit for conscience-shocking behavior, a youth detention facility in Sacramento is setting the course to end punitive solitary confinement nationwide.

Opinion: When Children Grow Up Poor, the Nation Pays a Price

 Mark Rank, New York Times Opinion, April 15, 2018
The United States has the weakest safety net among the Western industrialized nations, devoting far fewer resources as a percentage of gross domestic product to welfare programs than do other wealthy countries.

Enough is Enough: Students Demand Action on Guns in Massive March

Demonstrators fill Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington during the

Catherine Gewertz, Education Week, March 25, 2018
Hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, and parents packed streets near the White House and the U.S. Capitol and marched in cities around the globe on Saturday to demand more-restrictive gun laws and decry gun violence, the latest in a series of massive demonstrations sparked by the Parkland, Fla., school shooting that killed 17 people last month.

Child Abuse Hotline Established in Santa Clara County

Robert Salonga, Mercury News, March 29, 2018
Around-the-clock hotline to report suspected child abuse and neglect created in advance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Drugging Our Kids: Big Drop in Drugged Foster Kids in California

Former foster youth Tisha Ortiz, 23, testifies on Monday, April 11, 2016, at the California state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., during a hearing on Senate Bill 1174. The bill strengthened the power of the California Medical Board to identify and investigate high prescribers of psychotropic medications given to foster children. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group archive from 2016)

John Woolfolk, Mercury News, April 1, 2018
After years of efforts to crack down on the rampant use of psychiatric drugs in California’s foster care system, the number of youth prescribed the potent medications is plummeting — a major turnaround in how the state cares for some of its most vulnerable children.

New Mapping Tool to Help Advocate for Prevention of Abuse and Neglect

John Kelly, Chronicle of Social Change, March 15, 2018
Casey Family Programs, a national grant maker in the child welfare field, has launched the Community Opportunity Map, a tool that allows users to see localized indicators connected to community health and maltreatment prevention.

Encouraging Pre-K Attendance Among Immigrant Families

Alisha Kirby, K-12 Daily, March 19, 2018
One of the less visible fallouts from the aggressive anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration is the impact on early learners whose parents are in the country illegally, a new study suggests. The report from the Urban Institute that looked at what some districts are doing to encourage families to participate in voluntary pre-K programs.

How Life Outside of a School Affects Student Performance in School

Brian A Jacob, Joseph Ryan, Brookings, March 22, 2018
This report presents findings from a partnership between the University of Michigan and the State where they matched child maltreatment records in Michigan with educational data on all public school children in the state. They found that roughly 18 percent of third-grade students have been subject to at least one formal investigation for child maltreatment.

Victims of Spousal Abuse are Losing their Children to Social Servicesalex-ivashenko-223199-unsplash

Natalie Pattillo, Pacific Standard, March 5, 2018
Across the country, there are hundreds of instances where children are removed from the custody of a parent who has suffered from domestic abuse at the hands of a partner.

LA County Embarks on Sweeping Youth Diversion Plan

David Washburn, California Health Report, March 8, 2018
Los Angeles County – the birthplace of heavy-handed police tactics like S.W.A.T. teams, helicopter patrols and gang injunctions – is embarking on an effort that could make the nation’s most populous county a model for using a lighter touch with juvenile offenders.

For Low-Income Renters, the Affordable Housing Gap Persists

Sarah Holder, California Health Report, March 13, 2018
Every state in the country has fewer than 50 affordable housing units available for every 100 extremely low income families.

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.