Magazine article Policy & Practice

Within Our Reach: Implementing Recommendations from CECANF

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Within Our Reach: Implementing Recommendations from CECANF

Article excerpt

When the federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF) issued its report, "Within Our Reach: A National Strategy to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities," last March, it was the culmination of a two-year effort to study and reform America's child welfare system with a goal of reducing child abuse and neglect fatalities.

In the report, the CECANF outlined a population health approach with strategies and recommendations focused on identifying children most at risk and preventing child fatalities from abuse and neglect before they occur. The commission recommended states immediately undertake a retrospective review of child abuse and neglect fatalities from the last five years to identity the family and systemic circumstances that led to the fatalities. In addition, they recommended states use information from the review to develop and implement a comprehensive state plan to prevent child abuse and neglect fatalities.

This is not the first time that our nation had tackled this momentous task. Previous commissions have taken on this challenge but many of these reports have languished on the shelf with little impact on practice or policy.

Early indications are that this will not be the case with the CECANF report and recommendations.

Within two months of the release of the report, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities established a new office called Within Our Reach, funded by Casey Family Programs. Named for the CECANF report, the office will collaborate with a broad range of stakeholders and public- and private-sector partners to promote and accelerate the commission's work. Key strategies include:

* Accelerating and tracking CECANF's recommendations toward implementation by Congress, the Administration, states, counties, public-private partnerships, and community-based organizations;

* Evaluating the effectiveness of recommendations that are implemented, including whether they reduce fatalities and improve the well-being of children and families; and

* Helping shape a national dialogue indicating that the current approach to protecting children, with child welfare in the lead role, is not enough. Child welfare in the 21st century requires a public health approach that is a shared family and community responsibility.

The early seeds planted in this effort are already taking root. Recent policy actions by the Administration, Congress, states, and counties reflect a number of the CECANF's key recommendations.

Within the federal government, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released new guidance about maternal depression screening and treatment. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has replaced the Statewide and Tribal Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (S/TACWIS) rule with the Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) rule. …

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