Monday, August 8, 2011

Sen. Wyden Introduces Bill Promoting Accountability and Excellence in Child Welfare

Bill paves way for cost-saving collaboration and better lives for vulnerable children and families.

Washington, D.C. August 08, 2011

The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) and First Focus applaud Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden for his vision and commitment to improving the lives of those in the child welfare system.

“As a country, we cannot afford to let children fall through the cracks of the many systems that exist to serve them,” said Wyden. “By targeting our resources, improving collaboration, spurring innovation, and—above all—holding ourselves accountable, we can systemically serve the best interest of at-risk children, their families and communities, and the nation as a whole.”

The Promoting Accountability and Excellence in Child Welfare Act has the potential to save the federal government money (with current spending on foster care amounting to roughly 10 times more than that on prevention), establish concrete performance measures that emphasize significant results and encourage interagency and public/private collaboration - all to improve the well-being of children and youth. In addition, the bill provides strategies that maximize existing federal funding.

“It’s our nation’s responsibility to protect the best interest of our most vulnerable children. However, in today’s policymaking climate, solutions for addressing the challenges facing children in foster care are often missing from the conversations on Capitol Hill,” said Bruce Lesley, President of the First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan advocacy group. “We applaud Senator Wyden for spearheading this much needed legislation that will promote the well-being of children and families in the child welfare system and spur broader reform of the current federal financing structure.”

The bill would help states continue their efforts to prevent youth from entering foster care and lessen a child’s time in the system, while also encouraging strengthened support services to children and youth so they do not fall behind their peers. The bill provides states with the flexibility to determine the specific methods through which improved outcomes for children and youth will be achieved, based on best practices and in collaboration with foster parents, biological parents, kinship caregivers and youth. These interventions not only protect a child, but they help contribute to their current and future well-being.

“The proposed legislation, among other things, would encourage and support states’ most innovative efforts to ensure that children in the child welfare system are healthy, successful in school and that their social and emotional health are attended to,” said Frank Farrow, director of CSSP. “It recognizes that child welfare agencies alone cannot provide everything a child and family need in order to thrive and creates incentives for partnerships between child welfare agencies and schools, housing and employment services and health and mental health agencies. And, it establishes strong performance measures so that successful innovations can serve as scalable models into the future.”

About The Center for the Study of Social Policy
The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) is a nonprofit public policy, research and technical assistance organization. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., CSSP works with state and federal policymakers and with communities across the country. Its mission is to create new ideas and promote public policies that produce equal opportunities and better futures for all children and families, especially those most often left behind. Using data, extensive community experience and a focus on results, CSSP’s work covers several broad areas, including promoting public policies that strengthen vulnerable families; mobilizing a national network to prevent child abuse and promote optimal development for young children; assisting tough neighborhoods with the tools needed to help parents and their children succeed; educating residents to be effective consumers securing better goods and services and reforming child welfare systems. For more information on the Center for the Study of Social Policy, visit

About First Focus
First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. First Focus takes a unique approach to children’s advocacy, engaging both traditional and non-traditional partners in a broad range of efforts to increase federal investments in programs that address the needs of our nation’s children. In all of our work, we seek to raise awareness regarding public policies impacting children and families and to ensure that related programs have the resources necessary to help children grow up in a healthy and nurturing environment. For more information on First Focus visit

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