Historic Nationwide Partnership Formed to Reform Federal Child Welfare Financing

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Both the public and private child and family serving sectors are represented in a partnership between the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), the Alliance for Children and Families, and the National Organization for State Associations for Children (NOSAC) formed to collectively impact the child welfare finance reform debate taking place on Capitol Hill. They have committed to a comprehensive strategy for achieving child welfare financing and practice alignment by using proven practices to ensure the system is designed to achieve better outcomes.

Three leading national organizations have formed an historic partnership to collectively impact the child welfare finance reform debate taking place on Capitol Hill. At the heart of the partnership is a comprehensive strategy for achieving child welfare financing and practice alignment by using proven practices to ensure the system is designed to achieve better outcomes.

Both the public and private child and family serving sectors are represented in the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), the Alliance for Children and Families, and the National Organization for State Associations for Children (NOSAC) partnership.

“Members of all three organizations note that current funding is misaligned with our shared national goals for safety, permanency, and well-being,” said Tracy Wareing, executive director of APHSA. She went on to say, “It’s time to move the outdated federal financing system forward and use what we know works to improve outcomes for the children and families we serve.”

On September 24, the group released its Shared Principles for Child Welfare Fiscal, Policy, and Practice Alignment (http://www.alliance1.org/sites/default/files/pdf_upload/peter/shared_cwfr_principles_for_aphsa_nosac_and_the_alliance_september_2014_final.pdf.)

The principles serve as the backbone for an innovative child welfare finance policy design, which the group initially presented to the U.S. Senate Caucus on Foster Youth at its Discussion on Child Welfare Reform on July 30, 2014 (http://www.alliance1.org/sites/default/files/pdf_upload/peter/alliance_for_children_and_families_aphsa_nosac.pdf).

In the next few months, the partners are working to further develop details of the reform package and to jointly engage and mobilize their members and networks to begin sharing the unifying principles and reform recommendations more widely.

“We’re coalescing the powerful voices of the people across this country who work directly with children and families every day to make the point that now is the time for federal child welfare finance reform,” said Susan Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance. “We’re backing up the call to action with strong, specific recommendations for change.”

The APHSA, the Alliance, and NOSAC recommendations are focused on ensuring that the best interests of both the child and the family are at the center of decision-making and reform efforts. This is the group’s single most important guiding principle.

“Our principled, values-driven approach is the nexus of our partnership,” shared, Linda Hall, president of NOSAC. “We believe it’s critical that public financing supports strategies that are best for children and families.”

Additional principles encompass the belief that the federal, state, local, and tribal governments and private, nonprofit organizations can better promote and improve the well-being and outcomes for children. With a focus on a stronger federal-state partnership, the partners aim to:

-- Better leverage resources and promote evidence informed practices that improve outcomes;
-- Strengthen families and keep children safe in their homes whenever possible, preventing traumatic and expensive entry into foster care;
-- Secure permanency quicker for children who are removed from their homes;
-- Establish an integrated array of proven community-based treatment service and support for children and their parents that reduces the need for residential treatment; and
-- Provide high quality residential stabilization and treatment when no less restrictive care setting can safely and effectively address a child’s needs.

The leaders of the three organizations note that Congress is aware of the need to reform the current system and over the years has enacted legislation that takes incremental steps towards reform. Yet, Congress has yet to take action that goes beyond these incremental improvements and adopt a comprehensive approach to reform federal child welfare financing. The organizations believe the collective impact of their work will compel Congress to consider legislation that strengthens the federal-to-state partnership to ensure safety, permanency, and well-being.

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The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA. aphsa.org) is a bipartisan, nonprofit national organization representing chief executives in state and local human service agencies, public child welfare administrators, and human service program leaders. With and through our members, we support outcome focused policies and practices, advance innovation and knowledge development, and work with public and private networks to collectively promote better, healthier children, adults, families, and communities.

The Alliance for Children and Families is a national organization dedicated to a vision of a healthy society and strong communities for all children, adults, and families. The Alliance works for transformational change by representing and supporting hundreds of nonprofit human service organizations in North America. Through its Washington D.C.-based office of public policy, the Alliance utilizes a systems reform agenda and policy recommendations to improve the lives of vulnerable citizens. The policy agenda also includes civic engagement efforts that leverage authentic voices in neighborhoods and communities. More information is available at alliance1.org.

The National Organization of State Associations for Children (NOSAC, nosac.org) is a national organization of 28 state associations representing over 1,500 private agencies across the country serving vulnerable children, youth and families in the public child welfare and children’s mental health systems. NOSAC is committed to improving the care, services, and support provided to young people and their families through collaborative policy advocacy, information sharing and mutual assistance.

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Jessica Hall
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