Child Welfare Services: The Argument for Embracing Change … Which Costs Less and Accomplishes More

Today, child welfare agencies are most frequently associated with removing children who have been abandoned, abused or neglected from their families, and placing them in foster care or other alternative placements.

Immediate insulation from worst case scenarios.

The long-term outcome? Arguably, not so good.

Studies show that:

  1. more than half of the young adults coming out of foster care are unemployed in their mid-twenties

  2. one quarter don’t have a high school diploma or equivalent credential, and only six percent have achieved higher level degrees

  3. sixty percent of males have already been convicted of a crime

  4. seventy-seven percent of females have been pregnant

  5. twenty-five percent have post-traumatic stress disorder

There is another approach to child welfare. Intensive, in-home services, including mental health and juvenile justice, furnished to youth and their families, without breaking the family up, often without separating family members.

Programs self-report on their “graduates” as follows:

  • two years out of the programs, eighty-three percent of kids are doing well with their own families

  • two years out of the programs, eighty-five percent remain in school or have attained a high school diploma or equivalent credential

  • two years out of the program, eight-two percent have had no run-ins with the law

  • these programs carry a price tage of about ten percent of traditional child welfare intervention

These programs practice Multisystemic Therapy, and maintain close contact with and oversight of the children in their programs and their families.

Speaking less clinically, the children are happier and have greater stability.

Read more in this New York Times Article: A Families-First Approach to Foster Care.