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letters | delivering on promise over child protection

Federal funds for foster care need to be rethought

Yes, Governor Charlie Baker must invest in stronger efforts to protect against child abuse and neglect (“Baker promised DCF reform, now he must budget for it”). But Congress also has room for improvement in its investments.

The shrinking pool of federal foster care funding covers less than half of foster children today, and will cover fewer by 2024. States tap other social services funding, but that just shifts resources from one set of kids and families to another. Worse, federal funding gaps shortchange prevention efforts that help parents manage mental health, substance abuse, financial distress, and other risk factors for abuse and neglect.

Reform legislation in Congress would ensure that federal funds cover every foster child, but it would set a time limit on the funding, creating incentives to find kids permanent homes and families. Savings would be reinvested in prevention. Members of Congress should be urged to support this reform.

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Bruce Lesley
President
First Focus Campaign
for Children
Washington