As a leading independent voice for young people involved in the child-welfare system in Massachusetts, Friends of Children serves as a unique and powerful agent for policy advocacy—and your support means more than ever at this critical juncture in child-welfare reform.
The COVID-19 crisis has amplified issues already facing the staggering number of children and youth involved with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). In 2020, 15,584 children, youth, and young adults were in out-of-home placements in Massachusetts–and an additional 86,315 parents, caregivers, children, and young adults were involved with DCF (DCF Foster Care Review Report FY2020, DCF Annual Report FY2020).
We have arrived at a pivotal moment for child-welfare action:
- Our state legislature is currently considering a child welfare Accountability bill that should not be rushed through the process.
- On March 31, the Office of the Child Advocate released a report of the investigation into the tragic death of David Almond, 14, whose family was involved with DCF. The report, which chronicles the systemic failures in the child-welfare system prior to Almond’s death, sounds a cry for significant legislative action.
- Although advocates are rightly concerned about the decrease in reports of suspected child abuse and neglect, decisionmakers cannot lose sight of the needs of young people already involved with DCF.
This is a unique time, a confluence of harsh realities that presents an opportunity for transformative policy change. We must ask the right questions. Policy and operations must be viewed through the lens of child and family well-being.
Family well-being is also intended to stand at the center of the Family First Prevention Services Act, child welfare legislation passed at the federal level in February 2018. The effectiveness of the Family First, which mandates action at the individual state level, will rest in its concrete implementation here in Massachusetts. This is a complex piece of legislation that requires states to implement reforms using specific research-based criteria. To learn more about what Family First is intended to mean for our children nationwide, visit Children’s Defense Fund at www.childrensdefense.org.
To learn more about our comprehensive efforts at Friends of Children in the statehouse and beyond, visit our policy advocacy page at friendsofchildreninc.org/policy-advocacy. We’ve also listed a few resources on this page to help you learn more about child-welfare reform at the state and federal levels.
A few years from now, when the thousands of young people in our child-welfare system today look back on the end of the pandemic, can we dare to imagine that they might remember a time when life got better, when the system improved their situations? The time is now.
Your support of our policy advocacy work today means a better future for our children.
Become An Informed Advocate for Child-Welfare Action
At the state level:
Friends of Children
Children’s League of Massachusetts
At the national level:
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Children’s Defense Fund