Shame On U.S., A Look at The Child Welfare Crisis

Shame on U.S., a report by the Children’s Advocacy Institute (CAI) of the University of San Diego School of Law, in collaboration with First Star, was released this month that is highly critical of all three branches of the federal government for not diligently protecting the rights of some of America’s most vulnerable children….abused and neglected children.

Most recent statistics available reveal that more than 6 million children were referred to protective services, 3.8 million children were investigated for maltreatment, and nearly 700,000 kids were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect. Some are referring to this as an epidemic. In fact, the United Nations ranks the U.S. at 26th among 29 developed nations on the rate of child welfare (and 25th on the rate of child deaths due to abuse or neglect).

This report highlights the federal government’s role failing to properly enact, monitor, interpret, and enforce federal child welfare laws — and in so doing is allowing states to fall below minimum floors with regard to appropriately detecting and protecting children from child abuse and neglect and complying with minimum federal child welfare requirements and outcomes. Each branch of our federal government plays an essential role in child protection, and when even one fails to perform its role in an appropriate manner, children are put at risk of harm.

CAI asserts that all three branches must be performing optimally to ensure a well-functioning child welfare system, this report discusses the performance of each branch in this arena. The report includes:
an overview of the scope and purpose of major child welfare laws as enacted by Congress, and to what extent current laws meet the needs of children;
examples of shortcomings in all three branches with regard to their respective roles vis-à-vis the child welfare system; discusses issues where the purpose or intent of child welfare laws are being openly violated by some states; calls for federal oversight of states and funding or imposing penalties where states are clearly not meeting minimum standards; and makes several recommendations for all three branches of federal government, all of which are necessary in order to ensure a well-functioning child welfare system.

Friends of Children is studying the lengthy report as it provides a backdrop to concerns regarding balanced oversight of child welfare cases in Massachusetts. In fact, there is a link about Massachusetts HERE. We encourage your discussion of these issues and invite you to share your ideas with us.