All children deserve to grow up in a stable loving home surrounded by family and community that nurtures and supports their growth. Child welfare funding needs to be directed towards keeping families together. The parents of poor children are not extemporaneous to the well being of their children.
What has the world come to that children in the richest nation in the country have no permanent home, parents or community?
Our welfare system gives less monetary support to poor families than it gives to other people to care for children once in foster care. In a 2010 report, CLASP, a national non–profit organization seeking to improve the economic security of low-income people, reported that 63.85% of California Child Welfare spending went to Title IV-E, foster care funding. While in that same year TANF, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, received only 13.90% of California Child Welfare spending.
The child welfare system in the United States is charged with protecting America’s youth. With all the funds directed at protecting children many kids still age out of the foster care system without having found a permanent family. This issue needs to be addressed by every person in our society. Abused and neglected children are taken from their homes to be protected. Families in economic distress succumb to dreadful circumstances and take their woes out on the weakest in most need of care: children.
Poverty is one factor that leads to child abuse and yet the very system set in place to prevent child abuse and neglect does less for a family in crisis than it does for an institution to care for kids. Child welfare funds need to be directed at families in crisis and not wait for children to be abused to support them.
In California in 2006, 1,700,910 children lived in poverty and 76,129 children were in foster care (CLASP, 1/2010). In 2006, Title IV-E received $1,314,454,00 and TANF $286,103,00. A child in the home of the natural family is no less worthy of funding than a child that has already suffered some atrocity. Why wait for a child to be harmed before we lend a helping hand? Parents need monetary support to care for their children. Yes, people that are willing to care for abused children need incentive and affirmation, but parents deserve the same support to keep their family together.
Government needs to invest in early intervention for families living on the margin. Give families realistic support, enough to go to school, see doctors and eat healthy food so that they are able to give their children the tools they need to become successful in society. Existing policy largely gives funding to children that are already injured, giving them less than adequate care and expecting them not to repeat the woes of their family of origin.
Child welfare funding should really break the cycle of abuse and neglect that children have faced in our society for generation upon generation. The economic crisis has hit families very hard since 2006. How many children have lost their families due to poverty?