The CHAMPS campaign commends the U.S. Children’s Bureau for issuing important and significant guidance to child welfare agencies on the role of foster care as a support to families in ways that mitigate trauma for children and parents, expedite safe and successful reunification and improve parent and child well-being outcomes.
In a well-researched Information Memorandum issued on April 29, 2020, the Children’s Bureau provides a clear vision for foster care as a support to families that aligns with the powerful truth that:
“Relationships, belonging, and human connectedness are critical to well-being and must become key components of more humane and effective foster care practice.”
The IM outlines specific steps that are essential to achieving this vision and which align with the policy framework promoted by the CHAMPS campaign. We strong support and encourage this vision which entails:
• Agencies and courts thoroughly explore existing familial relationships and maternal and paternal relatives as possible placements;
• Agencies and courts place children with relatives or fictive kin, people who they know, when it is not possible to safely remain with their parent or primary caregiver;
• Agencies and courts make all reasonable efforts to keep siblings together unless such a joint placement would be contrary to the safety or well-being of any of the siblings;
• Children remain in their communities;
• Children remain in their schools and connected to classmates and teachers;
• Parents and children remain connected, speak with and see each other daily;
• Parents remain as involved in normal daily parenting activities as possible;
• Agencies and courts encourage and support relationships between resource families and parents;
• Resource families view working with parents as a central part of their role;
• Resource families are available to provide post reunification support;
• Agencies provide resource families with consistent and ongoing support to maintain their well-being; and
• All child welfare stakeholders view and support utilizing foster care as a support to entire families.
The Children’s Bureau provides many examples of best practices to assist agencies in achieving a more supportive approach to helping families heal and reunite. In addition to these important practice reforms, CHAMPS believes that federal and state policy makers have a role to play in achieving better outcomes. Through our policy playbook and in recommendations outlined in this recent report, we call on policy makers to champion reforms to promote stable, quality family-based care for children and youth who must enter foster care.