What is CHAMPS?

CHAMPS is a national policy and communications campaign to ensure bright futures for kids in foster care by promoting the highest quality parenting.

CHAMPS builds on research that shows that loving, supportive families – whether birth, kin, foster or adoptive – are critical to the healthy development of all children.

CHAMPS calls on policy makers to create a new partnership between foster parents and the state and local agencies responsible for foster care programs. This new partnership will lead to:

  • Stable, loving care that helps children in foster care heal and thrive
  • Foster parents, getting the training and resources they need when they need them, and hardworking caseworkers also having better training and support, and
  • Most importantly, more children leaving foster care to reunify with their birth family or join a new family through guardianship or adoption.

CHAMPS aims to advance policy reforms in 20-25 states over five years. To support its goals, CHAMPS offers a policy playbook with suggestions for research-based policy approaches.

What are examples champs policy goals?  

CHAMPS promotes policies that encourage and support foster parenting, keep children and youth safe, ensure they grow up in loving families and give them the best chances possible to heal, grow and thrive. 

The CHAMPS policy playbook offers policy approaches in three key areas:

  1. Quality caregiving
  2. Parents as partners in decision-making, and
  3. Quality assurance to ensure foster parenting is an ongoing priority.

See here for examples of policies in these areas.

See the Policy Playbook

Why Focus Policy Efforts on Foster Parenting?

One of the most powerful ways we can help children in foster care is to ensure they have supportive foster parents to help them heal from trauma, grow and thrive. They offer children what they need most: a safe family to care for them until they can return home or, when that’s not possible, be placed in another permanent family.

Despite their significant role in the lives of children, prior policy reform efforts have largely overlooked the pivotal role of foster parents. Yet, we know from innovation in the field that reforms focused on family-based care and quality foster parenting can catalyze systemic child welfare reforms that lead to better outcomes for children. For example, communities that have undertaken the Quality Parenting Initiative show improvements in stability, sibling connectedness, and permanent families for children and youth in foster care.

A number of factors point to why focusing on quality foster parenting is a timely matter and merits policy makers’ attention.

  • Many communities are facing a severe shortage of foster parents; too often children are placed in shelters or non-therapeutic group homes simply because we lack better alternatives.
  • We lack accurate and accessible data on current, former and prospective foster parents.
  • There’s an urgency to identify solutions to support quality foster parenting due to the increasing numbers of children entering foster care.
  • We know more now than ever before from a deepening body of research about the vital importance of caring adults in the healthy development of children, especially children who have been traumatized by abuse or neglect
  • Examples of successful approaches exist and can become more widespread if policy makers take action and prioritize quality foster parenting.

See our PowerPoint

Who’s Involved with CHAMPS Campaign?

CHAMPS is led by a coalition of child-focused organizations committed to policy reforms.

CHAMPS partners with The Brookings Institution, a nationally recognized non-partisan think tank that contributes its research expertise so that partners can utilize evidence-based information to advocate for quality foster parenting. The campaign is comprised of dozens of national and state-based partner organizations and supported by a diverse group of funding partners. in addition, leading state policy makers are partnering with CHAMPS to share their expertise and lend their support to promoting the highest quality parenting for children in foster care.  CHAMPS is proud to partner with eight outstanding child welfare agency leaders who are lending their expertise in child welfare innovation. These are:

  • Tim Decker, Director, Missouri Children’s Division, Department of Social Services
  • Jami Ledoux, Director, Child Welfare Services, Oklahoma Department of Human Services
  • Mischa Martin, Director, Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services
  • Greg Rose, Deputy Director, California Department of Social Services
  • Linda Spears, Commissioner, Massachusetts Health and Human Services
  • Marketa Garner Walters, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services
  • Bobby Cagle, Director, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family
  • Virginia Pryor, Director, Georgia Division of Children and Family Services

For more information about campaign’s partners, see the partners page.

Recent Article by CHAMPS Partners

What’s new on the policy landscape?

On February 9, 2018, Congress enacted the Family First Prevention Services Act –  or the Family First Act for short. This new law bring historic, sweeping policy changes that hold great promise for strengthening families. 

The new law aims to help more children safely prevent the need for foster care by offering new federal support for in-home training and family therapy, mental health services and substance abuse prevention and treatment for families who are struggling with substance use disorders. The Act increases support for grandparents and other relatives who have stepped up to care for children. The Act also funds regional partnerships to bring systems together to benefit children in families struggling with substance use; it also offers funding to help children be placed in treatment programs with their parents.

Significantly, the Family First Act aims to ensure more children in foster care are placed with families by directing federal reimbursements to support placements in families and limiting federal reimbursements when states inappropriately place kids in group facilities.  The Act also makes $8 million available in federal grants to states and tribes to support the recruitment and retention of high quality foster families.

The Chronicle of Social Change, a widely read news source in the child welfare sector, has published a three-part series describing the Act.  See here for part one.  See here for part two. See here for part three.

Other legislative summaries will be posted here soon.

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