The Chart above shows how much governments spend on child care for toddlers

(October 2021 figure: annual public spending per child on early childhood care).

Feb 13-15 State by State child welfare news;

These articles have been picked from the Children’s Bureau Gateway most recent news.

Shining a light on what states are (or are not) doing to protect the vulnerable children in their community.


IA: Expanded tax credit would benefit 129,000 Iowa kids (Includes audio)
Public News Service – February 15, 2024
An advocacy group is calling on the U.S. Senate to pass a tax bill to expand the Child Tax Credit for more than 100,000 children in Iowa. It is part of a broader tax bill which has already passed the House. The bill would expand the Child Tax Credit to about 16 million kids who do not currently qualify because their parents do not meet the income threshold, including 129,000 in Iowa. Jena Bushaw, a parent in Kossuth County and member of the group United Today Stronger Tomorrow, said the expanded tax credit would make a big difference to her family and thousands of others in Iowa.


IL: McLean County Launches First Family Treatment Court for Addiction Rehabilitation and Reunification
BNN – February 14, 2024
In a progressive move to address substance use within the child welfare system, McLean County has launched its first Family Treatment Court. This innovative court aims to provide a more holistic approach to supporting families grappling with addiction, focusing on rehabilitation and reunification. The newly established Family Treatment Court in McLean County is set to revolutionize the way we perceive and treat substance abuse within the child welfare system. With an emphasis on healing and reuniting families, this court offers intensive treatment, regular court appearances, and ongoing monitoring to ensure the well-being of both parents and children involved.


KY: Public could lose access to many government records under bill that House speaker supports
States Newsroom – February 14, 2024
A newly-filed bill one expert said “would eviscerate access to public records” in Kentucky is drawing fire from news organizations and open records advocates even as its sponsor says such claims are untrue and overblown. “Access by the public to disclosable public records will not be hindered in the least,” Rep. John Hodgson, R-Fisherville, said in an email. “Every record that is disclosable now remains disclosable.” But critics fiercely attacked House Bill 509, filed Monday and co-sponsored by House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, and Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Middletown. HB 509 would destroy what has long been a model law when it comes to public access to government records, the Kentucky Press Association said in a statement Wednesday. HB 509 would undermine vital access to such records created by the court decision, the press association said. “It is exactly what happened when the Cabinet for Health and Family Services falsely denied possessing ‘public records’ related to the tragic death of Amye Dye, a child under its supervision,” it said. “The resulting litigation was one of the most important open records cases in Kentucky history, and led to substantial sanctions against the agency and important legal reforms to the child welfare system.”


ME: Prioritizing public safety, housing and savings, Gov. Mills releases $71 million budget proposal
States Newsroom – February 14, 2024
Gov. Janet Mills proposed an additional $71 million to the biennial budget she passed last year in her supplemental budget released Wednesday, in which she prioritized funding for public safety, mental health, extreme weather preparedness, housing and child welfare. The supplemental proposal slightly increases the previous $10.34 billion biennial budget total to $10.41 billion. The supplemental budget comes after Maine’s nonpartisan Revenue Forecasting Committee last year projected an additional $265 million through Fiscal Year 2024-2025.


MT: What maternal health care can do to prevent family separations
Montana Free Press – February 14, 2024
In Roosevelt County, roughly 64 per 1,000 children were in foster care in 2022, according to the Kids Count Data Center. That rate, which far exceeds state and national averages, reflects an overrepresentation of Native American children in foster care across Montana. Child welfare experts say the pattern is related to a lack of critical resources, including health care access, prenatal services, addiction treatment, housing and employment. “We’re all very focused on disproportionality. But disproportionality is the consequence of disparities that weren’t addressed in the beginning of the system,” said David Simmons, director of government affairs and advocacy for the National Indian Child Welfare Association, a national policy and training organization. Simmons noted that in Montana, as in many states, children are typically placed in foster care as a result of issues arising from neglect. Abuse, by comparison, plays a role in a much smaller number of family separations.


NE: Nebraska child welfare, prison watchdogs have temporarily restored access for oversight roles (May require subscription) (Includes audio)
Beatrice Daily Sun – February 14, 2024
A six-month fight between Nebraska’s legislative and executive branches has gotten a reprieve, with watchdog access at least temporarily restored Wednesday to state inspectors general. With the blessing of Speaker John Arch of La Vista and Executive Board Chair Ray Aguilar of Grand Island, the Legislature joined Gov. Jim Pillen in a memorandum of understanding signed Wednesday. It specifies what information the executive branch will provide to the state ombudsman and inspectors general for corrections and child welfare. The agreement includes the Department of Correctional Services and the Department of Health and Human Services, effectively hitting the pause button on the fight and avoiding the potential of a lawsuit from either branch.


NM: CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes hopes to change New Mexico law (Includes video)
KOB – February 14, 2024
A decades-old New Mexico law is raising new questions from advocates and some legislators behind the baby boxes in the state. Advocates and lawmakers were in Belen just last week, celebrating a safe surrender. Now, their focus has changed from celebrating to changing state law. “The baby box works because it’s anonymous. Because no one sees who placed this baby in this box. Why are you going out and looking for this parent?” said Monica Kesley, founder and CEO of Safe Haven Baby Boxes. She says a state law is getting in the way of her organization’s mission. Right now, under the Safe Haven Act, CYFD is legally obligated to investigate Safe Haven surrenders, and give the mother and her family an opportunity to reconsider.


NY: New York Lawmakers Push For Major Investments in Family Court System
Imprint – February 14, 2024
Declaring the New York Family Court system “in crisis,” state lawmakers and legal advocates for children and families are calling for a major new public investment to improve the handling of foster care and youth justice cases. Senators and assemblymembers are seeking a $102 million investment to fix the “overburdened and under-resourced” family courts, funds that would be included in the state’s next fiscal-year budget.


PA: Clearfield County’s CYFS Department Faces Critical Staffing Shortage
BNN – February 14, 2024
Clearfield County’s Children, Youth & Family Services (CYFS) Department is grappling with a critical staffing shortage. The recent departure of three employees has exacerbated an already dire situation, pushing the remaining staff to their limits. The work environment at CYFS has become increasingly challenging, with high burnout rates among the staff. Commissioner Chairman Dave Glass has acknowledged the issue, stating that the constant need for hiring and the stressful nature of the work have taken a toll on employees. In some instances, staff members have had to provide shelter for children with special needs at the CYFS offices or off-site locations. This has resulted in mandatory night shifts, further adding to the burden.


SD: Native American Foster Care: South Dakota Lawmakers Establish Advisory Council
BNN – February 14, 2024
In South Dakota, Native American children are disproportionately represented in the foster care system. With nearly 74% of the system dominated by these children in June 2023, despite making up only 13% of the state’s overall child population, the issue is increasingly urgent. The recent joint investigation by South Dakota Searchlight and the Argus Leader has brought this crisis to the forefront. The historical context of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), enacted in 1978, aimed to prevent Native American children from being separated from their families and culture. However, the current state of affairs indicates a need for further action. In a significant move, lawmakers on a House committee in South Dakota have approved a bill to establish an advisory council to oversee communication on the welfare of Native American children in the state’s foster care system. The council would consist of stakeholders from tribes, the Department of Social Services, and the legislature, meeting once a year to discuss prevention, data, and innovation in Native foster care. The committee, however, rejected a bill to create a task force to study the problem and expand portions of the federal Indian Child Welfare Act into state law.


WA: How the case of a missing Indigenous teen fell through the cracks
Crosscut – February 14, 2024
Kit, Mexican on their dad’s side and Indigenous on their mom’s side, with ancestral ties to the Penticton Indian Band in present-day British Columbia, is one of 58 missing children and 128 missing Indigenous people in Washington, which has among the most cases of any state in the country. Kit’s disappearance is part of a much larger crisis, one that’s increasingly on the radar of state and federal officials. It has sparked bipartisan congressional legislation, executive orders from Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden, and state task forces promising to solve the problem. In Washington, state lawmakers created the nation’s first missing Indigenous persons alert system, which launched in July 2022, similar to Amber alerts for missing children. So far, it’s directly helped locate at least 13 people, according to the Washington State Patrol. Yet despite the attention on the issue, kids like Kit still vanish. To family, friends and child advocates, Kit’s disappearance reveals a lack of urgency seeping into the public entities that are supposed to protect kids like them, a child born into an abusive home who’d just begun to find their identity before going missing.




United Kingdom: Child Marriage Age Raised to 18 in England and Wales: A Stride Towards Protecting Children and Gender Equality
BNN – February 15, 2024
In a bold stride towards safeguarding the welfare of children and promoting gender equality, England and Wales have raised the minimum marriage age from 16 to 18. This decisive action aims to combat the pervasive issue of child marriages, a practice that stifles education, employment opportunities, and perpetuates poverty.
AR: Governor Sanders, DHS announces $30M plan focused on mental health, substance use treatment, crisis response initiatives (Includes video)
KAIT – February 13, 2024
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and The Arkansas Department of Human Services announced on Tuesday a comprehensive plan to invest $30 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to improve mental health and substance abuse services across the state through a variety of initiatives, including a statewide coordinated crisis response system. Governor Sanders approved the multifaceted plan earlier this month, and the Arkansas Legislative Council’s Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Subcommittee approved the funding today.


AZ: Arizona lawmakers focus on the health of vulnerable youth
State of Reform – February 13, 2024
The Arizona House Health and Human Services Committee focused on the state’s Department of Child Safety (DCS) and the foster youth population at its meeting this week, where they considered legislation designed to support this vulnerable population. House Bill 2704 would establish a foster youth permanency project team to implement solutions that remove barriers to permanency for children who are likely to be in DCS custody when they turn 18 or those participating in the Extended Foster Youth Program.
Also: House Bill 2704:


CA: Advocates warn against cutting housing subsidy for former foster youth
EdSource Today – February 14, 2024
The lack of stable housing is often cited by researchers as a significant barrier for current and former foster youth to continue attending school, and studies have shown that those exiting the foster care system face disproportionately higher rates of homelessness in California. Even so, two reductions totaling millions in funds targeted toward preventing homelessness and housing instability among youth exiting the foster care system are detailed in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2024-25 state budget. The governor’s cuts to extended foster care housing programs would help close only a sliver of the state’s projected $68 billion budget gap.


GA: Overview: 2025 Fiscal Year Budget for Human Services
Georgia Budget and Policy Institute – February 13, 2024
The Department of Human Services (DHS) oversees various services including foster care, child welfare, support for low-income individuals, aging services and child support. Governor Kemp proposed increasing spending by about $1 billion to DHS in the Amended Fiscal Year (AFY) 2024 budget and another $1 billion to the department in Fiscal Year (FY) 2025. The Governor’s proposed budget would increase DHS’s budget by about $25 million, a 3% increase from FY 2024.


HI: A critique of the child welfare system after death of 10-year-old girl (Includes audio)
Hawai’i Public Radio – February 13, 2024
The death of a 10-year-old Oʻahu girl who officials say was abused and starved by her legal guardians has sent shockwaves across the state. Her guardians appeared in court this week to face charges of neglect, abuse and murder. State legislators are calling for new laws to save other children from falling through the cracks.


MT: & SD: Officials in two states that routinely destroy Native American families make their position clear: We don’t care, we don’t have to. (Opinion)
NCCPR Child Welfare Blog – February 13, 2024
There were two important news stories last week from states that destroy astounding numbers of Native American families every year. The stories make one thing clear: State officials and many state lawmakers don’t give a damn about it.


NY: NY Bill Proposes Relief for Low-Income Families in Foster Care System
BNN – February 14, 2024
The New York State Legislature is contemplating a bill that could bring a significant change to the foster care system. The proposed legislation aims to eliminate the mandate for parents to financially contribute to their child’s foster care, a practice that disproportionately impacts low-income families.
Also: Some states charging parents 9% interest on foster care:
Also: Senate Bill S7054:


OH: Ohio Invests in Juvenile Detention Center Safety and Trauma-Informed Care (Includes video)
BNN – February 13, 2024
In an era where the welfare of our children is paramount, the Ohio Department of Youth Services Juvenile Correctional Building Fund has stepped up to address the pressing needs of its juvenile detention centers. State Representative Lauren McNally proudly announced a substantial grant of $302,109 for the Martin P. Joyce Detention Center in Youngstown.


OR: Lawmakers push bill to close loophole hurting vulnerable foster kids
States Newsroom – February 13, 2024
A state senator is pushing to close a loophole in state law and require providers supervising foster children in hotel rooms or short-term rentals to follow the same rules as other care providers. Under Oregon Department of Human Services rules, licensed child-caring agencies must follow a long list of requirements that includes their governing, record keeping, training and procedures for complaints and reports of abuse. It also mandates background checks, defines abuse, details allowed and prohibited discipline and restraints and covers procedures for handling complaints and abuse reports. DHS officials say the current law allows unlicensed providers to supervise children in temporary lodging, which child welfare advocates say puts those kids at risk. Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis and chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services, introduced Senate Bill 1521 to end the practice and require supervising providers to be licensed.
Also: SB 1521:


US: Biden-Harris Administration Holds First-Ever Interagency Youth Policy Summit: Cultivating Possibilities (Press release)
US Department of Health and Human Services – February 13, 2024
The Biden-Harris Administration brought together nearly 90 young people from across the nation at the U.S. Department of Education today for the first-ever interagency Youth Policy Summit: Cultivating Possibilities. The summit, which was designed and planned in partnership with youth, gave policymakers from federal agencies a chance to hear directly from young people and learn from one another about how to improve policies and programs to ensure that all youth have the opportunity to thrive.


US: Bill Tracker: Protecting Benefits for Foster Youth (Requires subscription)
Imprint – February 13, 2024
The Imprint has reported quite a bit in the past few years on the use of federal benefits for foster youth to help state and local governments pay for foster care costs, a practice exposed by our colleagues at The Marshall Project and NPR in 2021. About 5% of all foster youth qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits due to their own disability, or Social Security benefits based on the death or retirement of a parent, according to the Congressional Research Service. In the years since that investigative series, a number of states, counties and cities have adjusted their policy to limit the ability of child welfare systems to capture that money. And this year has brought a fresh round of proposed legislation on this issue.


US: Child abuse reports by medical staff linked to children’s race, Stanford Medicine study finds
Stanford Medicine News Center – February 06, 2024
Black children are over-reported as suspected victims of child abuse when they have traumatic injuries, even after accounting for poverty, according to new research from the Stanford School of Medicine. The study, which drew on a national database of nearly 800,000 traumatic injuries in children, appears in the February issue of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery. It also found evidence that injuries in white children are under-reported as suspected abuse. The study highlights the potential for bias in doctors’ and nurses’ decisions about which injuries should be reported to Child Protective Services, according to the researchers. Medical caregivers are mandated reporters, obligated to report to CPS any situations in which they think children may be victims of abuse. Because caregivers rarely admit to injuring their children, such reports rely in part on providers’ gut feelings, making them susceptible to unconscious, systemic bias.


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This article submitted by Former CASA Guardian Ad Litem Mike Tikkanen

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“What we do to our children, they will do to our society”

(Pliny the Elder, 2000 years ago)