Academic journal article Policy & Practice of Public Human Services

Letter from the Executive Director

Academic journal article Policy & Practice of Public Human Services

Letter from the Executive Director

Article excerpt

As our nation's welfare rolls continue at historic lows, the attention of the public has and will continue to shift to the well-being of children and families. Child welfare issues in particular are moving to center stage. The soon to be published federal "Report Card" on outcome and performance measures of state child welfare services; the Child Welfare League of America's National Data Analysis System, a state data reporting initiative available through the Internet; continuing litigation generated by advocacy organizations; and ongoing media attention will brighten the spotlight on this significant area of public human services.

This issue of POLICY & PRACTICE underscores developments and issues we need to understand, consider, and act upon as the national and local dialogue on child welfare inevitably moves forward. States and localities have made great improvements in practice, resulting in better outcomes for children and families. The interview with Jess McDonald of Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services illustrates how leaders with knowledge, vision and persistence can achieve extraordinary results.

Long-time leaders and practitioners in child welfare understand that what is needed to further reform and improve child welfare practice and outcomes is not new ideologies, laws, regulations, and federal reporting requirements, nor penalties for noncompliance. What is required to guide and underpin the work of the public and private sectors together to protect children and strengthen families and communities are clear principles, sound strategies, and effective tools. The Annie E. Casey Foundation's new program, Family to Family (see page 15), is a powerful approach to reform that presents these elements in ways that fully engage the community, revitalize foster care practice, and strengthen all of our families. …

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