Recent studies show that the child welfare workforce continues to face significant challenges in meeting the needs of abused and neglected youngsters. High caseloads, lack of training and supervision, limited resources, and low wages are consistently cited as problems. Children's attorneys have long recognized that improving these conditions is crucial to fixing broken child welfare systems. The problems have been addressed in many consent decrees and plans established as the result of class action litigation challenging the overall effectiveness of child welfare systems.
NCYL is pleased to announce that we are working on a project with Children's Rights Inc., a national child advocacy law center based in New York City. The purpose of the project is to review efforts to improve the child welfare workforce through class action litigation. The project, which has been funded by Cornerstones for Kids, will analyze the experiences of states following child welfare litigation settlements or consent decrees requiring them to implement workforce improvements. Cornerstones for Kids is a Houston-based organization that helps vulnerable children by making a "significant contribution to improving the health of the human services workforce."
The project began with analysis of class action consent decrees and settlement agreements relating to the quality of the child welfare workforce in 15 states. Next, the researchers will gather information about the status of states' efforts to improve their child welfare workforce and analyze outcomes, noting the factors that supported or hindered progress. Finally, NCYL and Children's Rights Inc. will distill this information into two written products: a framework designed for legal service organizations, and a policy-level report on workforce improvements for child welfare professionals and policymakers.
Bill Grimm and Leecia Welch from NCYL will be working on the project with Madelyn Freundlich, Sara Munson, Sara Bartosz, and Susan Lambiase from Children's Rights Inc. The project is expected to conclude in April 2006.
We thank Cornerstones for Kids for their generous support of this project.