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A Conversation About Child Care and Your State’s Child Welfare System


The June 6 National Issues>State Action presentationThe Child Welfare Landscape and Child Care Policies for Families Involved in Your State’s Child Welfare Systemwas co-hosted by the Partnership for America’s Children and the State Policy and Advocacy Reform Center (SPARC)

In the informative presentation from national and state child care and child welfare experts, Alliance allies heard about the current trends in child care and state child welfare policy, including the importance of child care for birth and foster parents, the provisions of the Child Care and Development Block Grant that can be used to provide child care services for dependent children involved in child welfare systems, and innovative child care/child welfare partnerships in Florida. 

Alliance for Early Success - Child Care and State Child Welfare Policy Presentation

Missed it? You can watch the recording of the call here, or download the slides here.

The kickoff presenter was Deb Stein with the Partnership for America’s Children, which now convenes the State Policy and Advocacy Reform Center (SPARC). Deb provided background information about SPARC and explained the impetus for the call regarding the need for child welfare advocates to understand and advocate for important child care policies and funding that prioritize child care for children involved in state child welfare systems.

Next was a segment from Hope Cooper with True North Group, LLC, and Cathy Palm, the Founder of the Center for Children’s Justice in Pennsylvania. Hope and Cathy provided an overview of the child welfare policy landscape.

Key takeaways included:

Primary goals of child welfare are to (1) prevent child abuse and neglect; (2) identify & investigate maltreatment; (3) provide in-home services that strengthen and support families; (4) provide foster care and out-of-home services; and (5) promote reunification, adoption and guardianship

Significant percentage of children involved in child welfare cases involve children age 0-6 with the majority of childhood fatalities occurring in infants under the age of 1.

There has been a shift in child welfare from investing resources in foster care and out-of home placements to investing in prevention services, such as housing, mental health, parent support and crisis services that keep families safely together. This shift was codified in the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), enacted in 2018 to allow Title IV-E funding of the Social Security Act to be devoted to prevention services for children and families in danger of entering child welfare systems.

At each stage of the child welfare continuum, stark racial disparities exist for African American, Hispanic and Native American children and families. Drivers of disparities include poverty, lack of economic supports, including housing, food assistance, employment and health care. Implicit bias in the child welfare system subjects families of color to greater scrutiny.

The lack of affordable, quality child care has huge implications for children and families entering care, including the ability of parents to work without leaving children in unsafe care; the ability of parents to seek and complete substance abuse treatment options; ability of young mothers to remain in high school and complete education; respite care for grandparents taking care of children.

COVID-19 pandemic places greater strain on families who bear the brunt of the economic fallout, and the child welfare system.

Child maltreatment causes lifelong impacts for children and families and costs society an estimated $428 billion in 2015-similar to the cost of public health problems such as type 2 diabetes.

Key resources providing child welfare information include:

Christine Johnson Staub with the Center for Law and Social Policy provided an overview of child care resources available to children and families involved in child protective services and foster care. Key takeaways:

CCDBG provides child care services to children at risk;

Under CCDBG states define protective services to include children in foster care, homeless children and other at-risk children

When defining protective services, child care agencies can but are not required to collaborate with child welfare agency

States impacted by COVID-19 pandemic can establish temporary categories related to families in need

CARES Act funding can be used to target children in protective services and child welfare systems

TANF Funding can be used for child care

CCDBG pandemic funding provides emergency access to care with no spending targets re: quality; no state match; can be used for programs not in subsidy program

Considerations for Collaboration between child care and child welfare include the fact that there in not enough funding in the system; states face significant budgetary constraints; consider current use of funds to not produce new gaps

Resources: Putting it Together: A Guide to Financing Comprehensive Services in Child Care and Early Education

Kristen Lang, founder and former leader of the High Quality Early Education for Dependent Youth (HQEEDY) Collaborative in Florida provided a unique state perspective of a five-year collaboration between early childhood care and learning providers, judges, child protective services, housing officials, WIC and other human services to provide children and youth in child welfare with critical early childhood supports. Key takeaways were:

HQUEEDY was formed to raise awareness about the importance of early childhood education for children in care and encourage providers serving dependent children to increase the quality of their care

Collaborative members included Office of Attorney General, Florida’s kinship care program; Early Childhood Council, legal services agency, among others

Initiative included incorporating questions regarding child care in judicial review reports

Created quality tiers for child care providers providing child care and early education to dependent children

Deep collaboration and relationship building between stakeholders was key

Additional questions can be directed to

Resources: High Quality Early Education for Dependent Youth (HQEEDY)

Quality Child Care Handout for Caregivers and Parents  

Quality Child Care Handout for Case Managers  

Quality Early Education (Video)  

Understanding Your Early Education Options for 05 Year Old Children in Care  Quality Child Care & Early Education Review   

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