Jerry Milner, associate commissioner of the Children’s Bureau and acting commissioner for the Administration for Children, Youth and Families wrote a piece for The Chronicle of Social Change on the Family First Prevention Services Act, legislation passed as part of the spending bill that congress passed and the President signed.
This bill changes the funding structure for the child welfare system to try and keep at-risk children from entering the foster care system in the first place.
Milner’s piece for The Chronicle praises the act as a good first step, but focuses on what still needs to be done to get to a point of real prevention.
While it is critical to help children who become known to the child welfare system avoid unnecessary separation from their families when services can be offered to keep them together, it is even more important to help families and children avoid the situations that lead them to child welfare in the first place. When a report is made to a public child welfare system, it usually means that the harm has already occurred, a child has been abused or neglected, trauma has been inflicted, and any interventions from that point are remedial rather than preventative.
Add to that the fact that most parents who mistreat their children, intentionally or not, were mistreated themselves and their trauma was never resolved. When we choose, as a child welfare system, to intervene only after abuse or neglect has occurred, we are complicit in perpetuating that inter-generational cycle of trauma and maltreatment.
We can change that.
We must change that.
Read the full article in The Chronicle of Social Change: Trump’s Top Child Welfare Official: Family First a Good First Step, but True Prevention is Key.