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Out of Harm's Way: Creating an Effective Child Welfare System

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Despite many well-intentioned efforts to create, revise, reform, and establish an effective child welfare system in the United States, the system continues to fail to ensure the safety and well-being of maltreated children. Out of Harm's Way explores the following four critical aspects of the system and presents a specific change in each that would lead to lasting improvem Despite many well-intentioned efforts to create, revise, reform, and establish an effective child welfare system in the United States, the system continues to fail to ensure the safety and well-being of maltreated children. Out of Harm's Way explores the following four critical aspects of the system and presents a specific change in each that would lead to lasting improvements. - Deciding who is the client. Child welfare systems attempt to balance the needs of the child and those of the parents, often failing both. Clearly answering this question is the most important, yet unaddressed, issue facing the child welfare system. - Decisions. The key task for a caseworker is not to provide services but to make decisions regarding child abuse and neglect, case goals, and placement; however, practitioners have only the crudest tools at their disposal when making what are literally life and death decisions. - The Perverse Incentive. Billions of dollars are spent each year to place and maintain children in out-of-home care. Foster care is meant to be short-term, yet the existing federal funding serves as a perverse incentive to keep children in out-of-home placements. - Aging out. More than 20,000 youth age out of the foster care system each year, and yet what the system calls "emancipation" could more accurately be viewed as child neglect. After having spent months, years, or longer moving from placement to placement, aging-out youth are suddenly thrust into homelessness, unemployment, welfare, and oppressive disadvantage. The chapters in this book offer a blueprint for reform that eschews the tired cycle of a tragedy followed by outrage and calls for more money, staff, training, and lawsuits that provide, at best, fleeting relief as a new complacency slowly sets in until the cycle repeats. If we want, instead, to try something else, the changes that Gelles outlines in this book are affordable, scalable, and proven.


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Despite many well-intentioned efforts to create, revise, reform, and establish an effective child welfare system in the United States, the system continues to fail to ensure the safety and well-being of maltreated children. Out of Harm's Way explores the following four critical aspects of the system and presents a specific change in each that would lead to lasting improvem Despite many well-intentioned efforts to create, revise, reform, and establish an effective child welfare system in the United States, the system continues to fail to ensure the safety and well-being of maltreated children. Out of Harm's Way explores the following four critical aspects of the system and presents a specific change in each that would lead to lasting improvements. - Deciding who is the client. Child welfare systems attempt to balance the needs of the child and those of the parents, often failing both. Clearly answering this question is the most important, yet unaddressed, issue facing the child welfare system. - Decisions. The key task for a caseworker is not to provide services but to make decisions regarding child abuse and neglect, case goals, and placement; however, practitioners have only the crudest tools at their disposal when making what are literally life and death decisions. - The Perverse Incentive. Billions of dollars are spent each year to place and maintain children in out-of-home care. Foster care is meant to be short-term, yet the existing federal funding serves as a perverse incentive to keep children in out-of-home placements. - Aging out. More than 20,000 youth age out of the foster care system each year, and yet what the system calls "emancipation" could more accurately be viewed as child neglect. After having spent months, years, or longer moving from placement to placement, aging-out youth are suddenly thrust into homelessness, unemployment, welfare, and oppressive disadvantage. The chapters in this book offer a blueprint for reform that eschews the tired cycle of a tragedy followed by outrage and calls for more money, staff, training, and lawsuits that provide, at best, fleeting relief as a new complacency slowly sets in until the cycle repeats. If we want, instead, to try something else, the changes that Gelles outlines in this book are affordable, scalable, and proven.

33 review for Out of Harm's Way: Creating an Effective Child Welfare System

  1. 4 out of 5

    Genevieve

    Read this over a year ago. Came across it again today, and looking over the table of contents, I realize how much it shaped my approach to thinking about the 'big problems,' especially Chapter 6: Follow The Money: The Perverse Incentive of Federal Foster Care Funding. I can't tell you how often I find myself using the term 'perverse incentives'--not that I'd never strung those two words together before this book, but the way he explained the shaping of policy and budgets was (apparently) pretty Read this over a year ago. Came across it again today, and looking over the table of contents, I realize how much it shaped my approach to thinking about the 'big problems,' especially Chapter 6: Follow The Money: The Perverse Incentive of Federal Foster Care Funding. I can't tell you how often I find myself using the term 'perverse incentives'--not that I'd never strung those two words together before this book, but the way he explained the shaping of policy and budgets was (apparently) pretty influential to how I've started looking at other issues (affordable housing, public education, etc.).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Marafino

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Pauter

  4. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  6. 5 out of 5

    Krista

  7. 5 out of 5

    John Apodaca

  8. 4 out of 5

    Inventory

  9. 4 out of 5

    Linus Vieira

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  11. 4 out of 5

    Casey Coghill

  12. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gina Liu

  14. 5 out of 5

    Riley

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jen Flores

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liz Stiverson

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ramon Perry

  19. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Paradisin

  20. 4 out of 5

    Frank Lockwood

  21. 5 out of 5

    Orphan and Adoption Books

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Toy

  23. 5 out of 5

    Graham Polando

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kay

  25. 5 out of 5

    The Ninja Squirrel

  26. 4 out of 5

    Amandallp

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brielle Evelyn

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anna Lewis

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cassie Fleck

  31. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Freed

  32. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Morfoot

  33. 4 out of 5

    Renee

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