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After a year-long deliberation, the Pew Commission on Children and Foster Care has released its reform recommendations for the nation’s child welfare
system. The group, which represents social service providers, court officials, child welfare experts and foster parents, focused primarily on new funding options and enhanced accountability measures. It found that current funding through Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, which accounted for $6.4 billion of federal child welfare dollars in FY 2004, uses outdated eligibility standards, unadjusted for inflation, that translate into fewer children qualifying for this assistance over time.

The report recommends removing all income eligibility requirements, extending assistance to children in U.S. territories and Native American tribes, and creating an indexed fund that permits states to reinvest unused foster
care dollars into other child welfare programs. It also suggests a host of improved accountability measures, including better agency-court collaboration and improved data tracking of the roughly 500,000 children in child welfare systems. Congress was asked to appropriate funding for databases and for enhanced training of court personnel. [05/24/04]

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