Child Welfare in the News

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.

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.