By Dana Wolfe Naimark, CEO Children’s Action Alliance
When children are at risk, we all have two basic responsibilities: We’ve got to strengthen families, so we can prevent abuse or neglect whenever possible. And, when abuse or neglect happens, we must take swift but thoughtful actions that give kids the best possible chance to grow up in a safe and loving permanent family.
Today, we are failing. But we can do better.
We got here because we paid too little attention to the problems facing families and state agencies and because the attention we paid came too late. During the Great Recession, so many families lost homes and jobs and health care and hope. And research shows that, when that happens, children pay the price. At the same time, we allowed Child Protective Services and other community institutions to weaken, undermining their ability to help when children needed them most.
The announcement last month that 6,500 reports of abuse and neglect had gone uninvestigated is the latest alarm bell. We should expect a swift response to make sure these children are safe.
But our response must go beyond these new investigations. We already had 10,000 so-called inactive cases that CPS staff hadn’t touched in more than 60 days. And once investigations are done, children and parents need help and support and connection to a future. There are already more than 15,000 children living in temporary foster care. Our responsibilities to them are no less real and no less urgent.
There is hope. A CPS oversight committee comprised of determined and insightful legislators and community leaders was just beginning its work when…..
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