Our Advocacy Efforts for a More Effective Child Welfare System
At Friends of Children, our policy work focuses on transparency, accountability, and oversight of the Commonwealth’s child welfare system. We want to ensure that only those children and families who must be involved with the system are as a matter of last resort, and that they are helped and not harmed. We would like to see more children and families supported in their communities and not forced into a dysfunctional system.
Our actions involve working with other advocates across the state and in Boston to educate the public and decision-makers regarding the poor outcomes for children and young people experiencing this system. We continue to push for a system that is transparent about its issues and challenges, ensures that an appropriate oversight structure is in place to oversee the entire system, and is laser-focused on improving outcomes for children and young people.
When we realized there was not a single place where one could go to read and understand what has been going on in our state related to the child welfare system, we created Failing Our Kids. This chronicle of the state’s ongoing cycle of investigative reports, audits, reforms, and promises, uses the very data reported by DCF to the federal government to demonstrate how the current system is failing vulnerable children and families.
Most recently, we published Ten Myths about the Child Welfare Oversight in Massachusetts to illustrate how the existing oversight structure is failing when it comes to the children, young people, and families involved in the state’s care. We’ve been frustrated by our own attempts, over many years, to get leaders in that structure to acknowledge problems and address them with clear eyes and new and informed approaches, approaches that include the voices of those with lived expertise.
We’ve been frustrated by our own attempts, over many years, to get leaders in that structure to acknowledge problems and address them with clear eyes
Independent Foster Care Review: A Promising Improvement
Beginning in 2017, Friends of Children has worked to change the paradigm in some measure by creating an independent Foster Care Review Office in Massachusetts. This is the fourth consecutive Legislative session for the House and Senate bills, filed again by Representative Farley-Bouvier and Senator Comerford.
Our experience with foster care review is broad and deep, reflecting the experience of our CASA program, former DCF employees on our staff, and our Policy Director who was a volunteer reviewer for 13 years. Currently, foster care review is conducted by a department within DCF, what some call “the fox guarding the hen house.” Foster care review is required by the federal government every six months for all children and young people in DCF placement. Currently funded as a line item in the state budget,we believe the money could be more effectively utilized if it were used to fund a review function independent of DCF. You can access the bills, a fact sheet and frequently asked questions on our Reforming Foster-Care Review page.
Currently, foster care review is conducted by a department within DCF, what some call “the fox guarding the hen house.”
We hope you will ask your state representative and senator to co-sponsor the bills; their co-sponsorship will be instrumental in getting attention for the bills as they move through the legislative process. You will find information on how to find your legislators and a sample message on the “Taking Action” section at the bottom of our Reforming Foster Care Review page.