Reviving the Child Welfare System
Reviving the Child Welfare System
Together We Own It has an opportunity to dramatically increase the rate of youth success. Our mission is to be the link between children and family services within our county, and to be at the forefront of a movement to ensure every child has a voice, and an opportunity to use it.
To realize this potential, we must build upon the strengths of the current child welfare system and directly confront its weaknesses. The success of #OutLoud will be measured by the ability to meet the following youth-centered goals:
● Create clear and consistent policies and practice standards based on the theories of trauma-informed care, whole-brain and restorative development.
● Increase efforts to ensure youth in Maryland:
○ Are involved and engaged as partners throughout service planning and delivery;
○ Build healthy, stable and supportive relationships;
○ Accomplish positive goals;
○ Achieve permanent connections;
○ Acquire the skills to become self-sufficient adults.
● Increase youth participation and incorporate youth voice in all aspects of the child welfare system (i.e. policy development, department trainings)
The #OutLoud Campaign demonstrates there is a great need in our community for wraparound services that support entire families. While great programs operate here in Carroll County, there is a lack of collaboration and integration. Therefore, children are falling through the cracks.
The first phase of #OutLoud identified the following priorities for improvement:
● Amend department policy and state laws to decrease the amount of time families
spend in the courtroom and increase opportunities for mediated outcomes.
● Support whole-family foster care and eliminate the stigma and fear around giving
up custody and the removal of children.
● Dramatically improve family support before situations escalate. This includes
increasing access to respite care, integrating services, and allocating funds to
focus on prevention.
We are aware that change can be uncomfortable, and this work will not be easy. But we are motivated by the sustainable increase in youth achievement and family outcomes that the #OutLoud campaign will bring. We believe we can deliver a much-improved system of care and create stronger neighborhoods because of it.
Prevention programs are difficult to fulfill with limited staffing and large case loads at the LDSS but could be more cost effective than intervention services (Foster Care) (Sec. 07.02.01.04. Services to Families with Children)
Prevention dollars: "The annual reimbursement for the maximum # of kids in Maryland is $54,000" - that money is being spent on foster families when it could be directed to families struggling through poverty or other circumstances before their children are ever removed. (Sec. 07.02.11.29. Child Support and Other Resources for Reimbursement Towards Cost of Care, Sec. 07.02.11.39. Schedules)
Number of court appearances for children in the state of Maryland (Citation: Fam. Law § 5-525; Crts. & Jud. Proc. §§ 3-816.2; 3-823)
We are continuing to weed through policies to determine which we'd like to call into question but it is apparent after review that many of our policies have the best intentions on paper, but need to be more explicitly followed in practice. At an initial look it appears that a main concern might be a lack of resources and staffing. Social workers are weighed down with heavy case loads and one agency/department cannot be responsible for this large undertaking. We need to do better at integrating services and collaborating with neighboring organizations.