A damning report released by Friends of Children in late April continues to reverberate among policymakers statewide.
Failing Our Kids: Measures of the Broken Children Welfare System in Massachusetts, which was first published on April 30, garnered front-page coverage just days later in the Boston Globe. Shortly thereafter, the report may have been on the minds of state lawmakers during an extraordinary day-long hearing conducted on May 4 by the Joint Committee on Children and Families to hold accountable child welfare leaders in the aftermath of the deaths of several young people while in custody of the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Failing Our Kids, which lays bare the nightmarish cycle of child-welfare fatalities, ineffective reforms, and systemic failures of the child-welfare system in Massachusetts, was conceptualized, researched and led by June Ameen, policy director at Friends of Children with the collaboration of Kate Lowenstein, the multisystem youth project director at Citizens for Juvenile Justice. Writer Joan Montgomery Halford and graphic designer Seth Gregory helped bring the report to life.
Failing Our Kids uses publicly available data to serve as the irrefutable voice for the more than 15,000 young people in foster care in Massachusetts. Advocates have asked for transparency on these issues for a long time. Friends of Children identified a major opportunity to draw attention to the systemic failures here using existing federally reported Child Trends data and the data that actually are available from Massachusetts.
The report’s compelling visual presentation of the hard data surrounding the child-welfare system, along with its extraordinary visual timeline, delivers significant, complex, and painful realities to a general audience in a format that underscores the urgency and severity of the situation for young people in foster care in Massachusetts.
“Ultimately, Failing Our Kids has been a powerful and effective way to give voice to the most vulnerable children in our state—the children, youth, and young adults in our foster care system. Given the terrible current outcomes here right now,” said Jane Lyons, executive director of Friends of Children, “we intend to maintain a tireless and unrelenting campaign to overhaul this broken system. Their lives and their futures are at stake. They deserve nothing less than our loudest advocacy.”
Your ongoing support of Friends of Children helps effect significant change in the halls of our statehouse, and Failing Our Kids has been a significant part of that policy advocacy work.