UNITED FAMILY ADVOCATES' PROPOSED LEGISLATION "FAMILY POVERTY IS NOT CHILD NEGLECT," HR 6233 AIMS TO END FAMILY SEPARATIONS DUE TO POVERTY
COMMENTS ON PENDING REAUTHORIZATION OF THE CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT ACT:
UFA submitted detailed recommendations for changes to CAPTA on February 6, 2019. Read our proposal here.
Here is the press release Rep. Gwen Moore, lead sponsor, put out today (June 27, 2018). We are actively working identify potential co-sponsors for these measures and will be doing outreach to our allies over the next several months.
Here is United Family Advocates' Press Release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2018
US CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE GWEN MOORE (D-WI) INTRODUCES GROUNDBREAKING BILL TO PROTECT POOR CHILDREN FROM SEPARATIONS INTO FOSTER CARE DUE TO FAMILY POVERTY (H.R. 6233)
Contact: Diane Redleaf, Co-chair: (708) 927-8169 or Brandon Logan, Co-chair: (512) 472-2700
Late last night, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) introduced the “Family Poverty Is Not Child Neglect Act” to end widespread child protection agency practices of separating families due to poverty, H.R. 6233. The filing coincides with National Family Reunification Month and aims at ending separations of children from their parents by child welfare authorities. The bill amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) by instructing states that receive federal CAPTA funds to address concerns about a child’s welfare due to family poverty through services rather than removal of the child to foster care.
Diane Redleaf, co-chair of United Family Advocates, a bi-partisan group of concerned advocates who want to reform the child welfare system, said “Studies show, and child and family advocates agree, that foster care should be used only when less intrusive means to protect children fail. When poverty is the cause for child protection intervention, concrete services to help families are a much better approach than family separation.”
Dr. Brandon Logan, co-chair of United Family Advocates, said, “The urgency of keeping families together is more apparent now than ever before. The Act prevents the use of federal funds to separate families based on poverty. Keeping children with their parents prevents the trauma of separation and saves state and federal governments millions of dollars in unnecessary foster care expenses.”
Over 75 percent of the families coming to the attention of state child welfare authorities concern claims of parental neglect, not abuse. Neglect allegations include allegations that children have inadequate food, clothing, shelter, child care or medical care – conditions related more to poverty and its stressors rather than parental fitness. For example, a recent federal report [LS5] states that 27,871 children in the United States were removed from their homes to foster care due to inadequate housing in 2017. A number of separate studies have shown that 30 percent of children in foster care could be returned home if their families had adequate housing.
Families in poverty are at very high risk of being separated by child welfare authorities. Indeed, families who are below the poverty line are 22 times more likely to be involved in the child protection system than families with incomes slightly above it. (See Prof. Martin Guggenheim and Prof. Vivek Sankaran (eds.), Representing Parents in Child Welfare Cases, American Bar Association (2015), Other studies have shown that even a slight boost in income for low-income families can reduce the risk of being reported to and investigated by CPS.
The bill is modeled after laws in 12 states and the District of Columbia that specifically exempt financial inability from their definition of child neglect. However, it goes further than these laws by restricting the use of federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act funds to separate children from their parents for reasons of poverty alone. The federal government spends $13 billion on child protection Hotlines, child welfare investigations, child welfare services and foster care every year. But in many cases children could be kept safely in their own homes, at dramatically less cost, if states facilitated access to food, clothing, medical care and shelter instead of taking children away from their families into foster care.
Diane Redleaf, Legal Director of the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare, www.nchcw.org and Dr. Brandon Logan, Director of the Center for Families & Children at Texas Public Policy Foundation, www.texaspolicy.com, co-chair United Family Advocates, a bi-partisan coalition of nationally-known family advocates, which formed after the 2016 Presidential election to bring family advocates together across party lines. UFA works to change the response of the child welfare system to families in crisis by reforming federal funding requirements for state child welfare investigations. For more information or to support the work to create common sense, family-supportive child welfare policies, see United Family Advocates, see www.unitedfamilyadvocates.org.