Child Welfare in the News

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.

Preventing Homelessness Among the Young

Vanita Gupta and P. McCarthy (Opinion), USA Today, June 26, 2018
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that it will give $43 million towards youth projects to 11 communities around the country.

Federal spending on children projected to drop substantially over next decade

John Fensterwald, Ed Source, July 18, 2018
Federal spending on children will drop about a quarter within a decade, as appropriations for the elderly and rising interest payments on a soaring national debt will squeeze spending on America’s youth, the Urban Institute projected in a report issued Tuesday.

The War on Poverty isn't Over and Kids are Losing 

Kriston Capps, City Lab, July 18, 2018
A report last week from the White House Council of Economic Advisors declared the War on Poverty “largely over and a success.” The report diverged sharply from what even other Republicans say about poverty, to say nothing of economists.

Taking Migrant Children from Parents is Illegal, UN tells U.S.

Nick Cumming-Bruce,  New York Times, June 5, 2018
The Trump administration's practice of separating children from migrant families entering the United States violates their rights and international law, the United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday, urging an immediate halt to the practice.

Who Becomes Homeless? Data Paints a Startling Picture

Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil, California Health Report, June 6, 2018
Economics are the primary driver of homelessness, according to a 2017 report by researchers at UC Irvine, with forty percent of those surveyed cited difficulty finding a job with sufficient wages, and 36 percent cited an inability to find affordable housing.

Count all kids in the 2020 Census. Getting it wrong will hurt children for 10 years.

Vanita Gupta and P. McCarthy (Opinion), USA Today, June 26, 2018
In 2010, the Census reflected a net undercount of about 1 million young children, and the conditions are in place for it to happen again.

The Foster Care to Prison Pipeline: What it Is and How it Works

Rachel Anspach, Teen Vogue,  May 25, 2018
Advocates calling for solutions to the “foster care-to-prison pipeline” point to the fact that one quarter of foster care alumni will become involved with the criminal justice system within two years of leaving care. Without family or local support foster youth lack figures who would advocate on their behalf, a problem exacerbated by lack of mental health care and racially disproportionate treatment by the criminal justice system.

For many homeless families, a tough choice: Separation, or a shelter bed?

Sarah Jane Tribble, San Jose Mercury News, May 29, 2018
The more than 21,000 families who are homeless in California often have nowhere to go if they want to stay together. While some shelters across the state have developed family-friendly models, these accommodations are still in short supply.

Extended Foster Care Help Los Angeles Youth

Kateri Wozny, U.S. News, June 8, 2018
As of May, officials said Los Angeles County had 2,526 youth in extended foster care, with 647 who were placed with relatives. The county family services agency also says about 60 percent of EFC youth are Hispanic, while about 30 percent are African-American.

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.