Child Welfare

By Sara Dube and Darcy White
Policymakers want to improve outcomes for children and youth but often struggle with how best to allocate limited resources. In recent years, many have turned to evidence-based policymaking—the systematic use of high-quality research in decision-making—to help address this challenge. Extensive analysis, for example, has demonstrated that some interventions achieve outcomes that benefit children and youth—such as reducing child abuse and juvenile recidivism rates. But policymakers need access to these findings to identify, fund and sustain these proven programs.

Parents play the most essential role in a child’s life, but when families struggle or break down, states often become responsible for providing a safe and secure home base. There has been a shift in focus, however, to help families overcome challenges so that more parents and children can be reunited.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average married middle income ($59,200-$107,400) couple can expect to spend $233,610 on each child for food, shelter and other necessities through age 17. Child care and education will take up 16 percent of those expenditures. However, child care costs vary dramatically across the country.

CSG Midwest
Lost in the din of Kansas’ recent budget woes, an innovative mechanism is quietly funding dozens of early-childhood education and wellness programs across the state. The Children’s Initiatives Fund, Kansas Endowment for Youth and the state’s Children’s Cabinet were created in 1999 to support programs promoting the health and welfare of Kansas children using the state’s share of the national tobacco Master Settlement Fund.
CSG Midwest
In early 2012, a 17-year-old stood up in a high school cafeteria in northeast Ohio and began shooting. Three students died, three were injured. For the leaders of Ohio’s systems of mental health and developmental disabilities, that tragic incident became a call to action.
“After the fact, people said, ‘We had seen signs,’ but nobody knew what to do or how to connect with resources,” notes Tracy Plouck, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
What could the state do to help fill those resource gaps? How could it assist families and communities wanting to help a troubled young person? In part, the response has been the creation of Strong Families, Safe Communities, the goal of which is to improve care coordination and crisis-intervention services for individuals between the ages of 8 and 24 at risk of harming themselves or others due to a mental illness or developmental disability.
CSG Midwest
Starting in 2017, the state of Nebraska will begin offering up to $5 million in tiered tax credits annually to early-childhood programs and their employees — the first Midwestern state, and just the second U.S. state, to do so. Under the School Readiness Tax Credit Act (LB 889, passed earlier this year), which is linked to a quality rating and improvement system created three years ago by the Unicameral Legislature, providers receive incentives based on their quality rating, while eligible employees can claim credits based on education levels, training and work history.
CSG Midwest

One of the more notable trends in state policy over the past decade has been the increased legislative activity and investment around early childhood education. In the Midwest, countless laws and programs (some new, some long-standing) are now in place, from “Preschool for All” in Illinois to “Gearing Up for Kindergarten” in North Dakota.

On June 3, 2016, Gov. Kasich of Ohio signed into law a bill to allow bystanders to break into hot cars with unattended children or pets. Some states already have on the books one or more of three types of laws addressing this issue. Twenty states have laws to specifically address the issue of unattended children in cars, outside of any child neglect and abuse laws that would address endangering a child's welfare. Sixteen states have "good samaritan" laws that protect individuals from civil liability if they provide assistance in...

Every year, thousands of young men and women age out of the foster care system lacking the stability and life skills to prepare them to live as productive adults. Many of these youths will find themselves without a high school degree and unable to secure gainful employment, which can lead to homelessness, poverty and entry into the criminal justice system. This session highlighted innovative approaches states are taking to protect foster care children and provide hope to those who find themselves rapidly aging out of the foster care system..

Every year, thousands of young men and women age out of the foster care system lacking the stability and life skills to prepare them to live as productive adults. Many of these youths will find themselves without a high school degree and unable to secure gainful employment, which can lead to homelessness, poverty and entry into the criminal justice system. This session highlighted innovative approaches states are taking to protect foster care children and provide hope to those who find themselves rapidly aging out of the foster care system..

Pages