This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
For AmericA’s Abused And neglected children,
reports of child abuse and neglect will be filed in the United States this year.
800,000 children will spend time
in foster care.
What they all have in common as they enter our nation’s child welfare systems is the need for stable homes. What too many of them will have in common as they make their way through those systems is the stuff of nightmares. Some will be separated from their siblings. Some will languish for years in “temporary” foster care placements or institutions. Some will be shuffled around frequently and without warning. Some will—unthinkably—suffer additional abuse at the hands of the people entrusted with their protection. Many will be denied health care, education, and other fundamental necessities for safe, healthy, and happy lives. And many will experience serious, permanent damage as a result.
The fact is that many of our nation’s child welfare systems are
Children get sent to live with inappropriate or unlicensed foster parents. Instead of being adopted, many are housed in orphanage-like institutions where their educational, physical, and mental-health needs are neglected or ignored. Many children emerge from the systems that are supposed to be protecting them much worse for the experience. And the systems themselves—underfunded, understaffed, lacking leadership, and low on morale—are often ill-equipped to respond.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
SINcE 1995, cHILDREN’S RIGHTS HAS bEEN fIGHTING fOR OUR NATION’S AbUSED AND NEGLEcTED cHILDREN.
children should be raised in loving homes, not institutions.
Every child deserves the opportunity to grow up in a safe and nurturing family.
Protecting vulnerable children is everyone’s obligation,
and every state and local child welfare system must do its best on behalf of the children in its care.
Running a child welfare system properly is always less costly than allowing it to fail.
Across the country, we are proving that child welfare systems, given adequate funding and proper management, can provide a brighter future for the kids in their care.
We work with local child advocates, thoroughly
investigating state and local systems when it becomes apparent that they are failing to live up to their responsibilities—and putting children at risk.
We build strong cases, documenting problems, bringing them to
public attention, and recommending ways they can be fixed.
We take tough legal action to force system-wide reform—and
continue to monitor the systems for as long as it takes to ensure that progress is made. Our policy staff works closely with our legal team, researching best practices nationwide and issuing for effecting lasting change.
strong and substantive policy recommendations
cHRIS lived through a horror story for twelve years,
passing in and out of Michigan’s child welfare system—and getting bounced around from one foster home to the next—before he was finally adopted at the age of 14. At two, he was removed from the home of his alcoholic mother— and returned home after 18 months. At eight, he was removed again—along with his brother and two sisters—when neighbors and teachers reported signs of physical abuse. Chris and his brother were separated from their sisters and placed in a home where their foster mother physically abused them. They were moved again—twice—and ended up with a family that wanted to adopt them both. But Michigan’s Department of Human Services had decided that the boys should be separated—and, appallingly, they were. Chris’s brother was sent to a residential treatment facility, where he was routinely beaten under the supervision of institutional staff. Chris stayed with his fourth foster family for two more years before he, too, was placed in an institution—despite meeting none of the criteria for such a move. Chris finally moved in with his adoptive father in December 2005. The adoption became final in August 2006, and his brother has now moved in with them and is awaiting adoption. On August 8, 2006, Children’s Rights filed a federal class action lawsuit against Michigan’s Department of Human Services on behalf of the 19,000 children like Chris in state custody. The case is ongoing.
TOO MANy cHILDREN GET TRAPPED IN fOSTER cARE.
Foster care is supposed to be a temporary placement for children who have suffered abuse or neglect while the state works either to reunite them with their families or to find them adoptive homes. But that’s not how it works for many of them.
The average child in foster care lives in
two to five different homes
over a period of just two and a half years.
DENISE’s life was changed when
children’s Rights took legal action in Tennessee.
She had been abused and neglected from the time she was born. The state took her away from her abusive parents when she was just an infant. It wasn’t until she was three that her parents’ rights were terminated and she was freed for legal adoption. And she would remain trapped in the system for many more years. Denise was fortunate to be placed in a stable home, but her foster mother couldn’t get the help she needed. The state child welfare agency failed to provide much-needed mental health services. Denise’s behavior was worsening, and she struggled in school. And even though her foster mother, Pearlie, wanted to adopt her, the state agency couldn’t give her solid assurances that they would provide the services that Denise so desperately needed. In 2000, Children’s Rights filed a class action suit against Tennessee on behalf of Denise and the 9,000 children like her in state custody. A settlement agreement was reached in 2001, but the system continued having dire problems. In 2003, Children’s Rights brought a contempt action in federal court and real progress began. Under new leadership, the agency has made major improvements—although some serious problems still remain. We continue to serve as a watchdog to ensure that the reforms mandated by the settlement get made. As for Denise, the state agency finally began paying attention to her case. Her adoption by Pearlie was finalized. Her behavior improved. She went from being a D student to getting A’s and B’s. She’s now a healthy teenager, thriving in her permanent family, making the honor roll, and shining as a member of her high school’s traveling dance team.
Seventy thousand children
in America have languished in foster care for more than five years.
Making matters worse, foster care systems across the United States labor under terrible strains caused by insufficient funding and political inattention. Too many foster parents are inadequately trained and supported. The caseworkers responsible for monitoring the well-being of children in foster care are often overburdened with caseloads that sometimes double or even triple the acceptable standard. Placements in group homes and institutions—the last resort for children in state care—are actually increasing in the U.S.
In all of these situations, it is always the children who suffer. They get trapped in systems from which
the only escape is reaching the age at which the systems no longer have legal authority over them. They develop severe emotional and psychological problems. Their chances of ending up in stable, healthy, permanent homes—and of living happy, normal lives—diminish every day.
We measure our success by the difference we make in the lives of children. Children’s Rights has won landmark cases improving child welfare systems in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and other jurisdictions. Much more than mere symbolic victories, these comprehensive campaigns for reform produce real, measurable improvements in the lives of abused and neglected children. • • In Washington, DC, reforms resulting from our efforts more than tripled the annual number of adoptions of children in foster care. In Connecticut, where systematic failure to investigate alleged abuse and neglect placed thousands of children in danger, litigation and monitoring by Children’s Rights have ensured that more than 90 percent of abuse and neglect allegations are now investigated promptly—and the quality of the investigations has markedly improved. Sweeping reforms brought about by Children’s Rights’ settlement with the state of Tennessee have cut the number of children living in orphanage-style institutions and other non-family settings in half since 2002. In Missouri, Children’s Rights helped to overturn a state law that slashed aid to parents adopting children from foster care. Our efforts in Kansas City, Missouri, ensured that more than 90 percent of the children in custody receive necessary dental, medical, and mental health care. Legal action in New Jersey brought about the creation of a cabinetlevel children’s agency. Among many much-needed reforms, the state increased the number of new foster families by nearly 50 percent over a period of just two years. In all, Children’s Rights reform campaigns have secured more than $2 billion in additional child welfare funding nationwide and initiated reforms to ensure that funds are spent more effectively to help abused and neglected children.
Legal action that gets
Policy recommendations for
Our recent and ongoing policy projects include: •
Our policy staff works closely with our legal team throughout every reform campaign, zeroing in on fundamental problems within each child welfare system and proposing potential solutions. All of our policy recommendations are based on thorough research into best practices nationwide, helping us identify the strategies most likely to produce the best results for children. We also complement our legal efforts with advocacy at the national level, conducting studies and periodically issuing major reports designed to show how better public policy can bring about big improvements in the lives of our nation’s abused and neglected children.
Hitting the M.A.R.c.: Establishing foster care Minimum Adequate Rates for children
The first-ever calculation of the true costs of supporting a child in foster care, Hitting the M.A.R.C. recommends minimum reimbursement rates for each state—and highlights the troubling disparity between the expenses foster parents really face in feeding, clothing, and housing the children in their care and what they currently receive in state assistance.
Promoting child Welfare Workforce Improvements through federal Policy changes
An ongoing collaboration with the Children’s Defense Fund, this project is a broad-based effort to ensure proper screening, training, supervision, and support for child welfare workers nationwide.
The list goes on.
At the crossroads: A Decade of child Welfare Reform in New york city
An exhaustive assessment of the performance of one of the largest child welfare systems in the U.S., At the Crossroads identifies several areas in which reform efforts have not produced satisfactory improvements and seeks to inform and drive further reforms.
Children’s Rights is a leader in child welfare reform. Children’s Rights is effective.
Our legal efforts force improvement by setting definitive benchmarks and strict timetables. Our policy proposals point the way toward more reasoned and results-oriented governmental approaches to child welfare.
With a paid staff of just over thirty, we have achieved landmark legal victories and improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of abused and neglected children in a dozen states across the nation—with more in the works and the scope of our influence growing every day.
Support for Children’s Rights is support for America’s abused and neglected children.
The individuals and foundations that fund Children’s Rights know that their contributions will result in direct action on behalf of children who have no other means of helping themselves out of failing child welfare systems—and into safe, healthy, stable, and permanent homes.
Find out how you can help.
Contact Jethro Miller, director of development, at: Children’s Rights 330 Seventh Avenue New York, NY 10001 212.683.2210 Or visit us on the web to find out more:
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.