NASW Social Justice Issue Brief
Intimate partner violence (IPV), also referred to as domestic violence, is a serious and persistent life-threatening criminal and public health problem affecting millions of people each year across the United States. IPV is prevalent in every socioeconomic group, regardless of race or ethnicity. Because of the pervasiveness of IPV, especially with women as the primary victim, it is not only a criminal justice and public health crisis, but also has enormous child welfare implications.
On February 9, 2018, President Trump signed into law the landmark bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) as part of Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
Family First redirects federal funds to provide services to keep children safe with their families and out of foster care. It also helps ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting appropriate to their special needs when foster care is necessary.
Within Our Reach, in collaboration with the Children's Advocacy Institute, released the report Steps Forward, a progress report cataloguing implementation of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities recommendations at the federal, state, and county levels from March 2016 through May 2017.
The 24th Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report indicates the number of children in foster care rose for the fourth consecutive year and that public child welfare adoptions increased for the first time since 2012.
The AFCARS report highlights include the following:
20,532 youth aged out of care in FY 2016; children in foster care increased from 427,000
in fiscal year (FY) 2015 to 437,000 in
FY 2016; and adoptions from foster care rose from 54,000 in
FY 2015 to 57,000 in FY 2016.
The top two circumstances surrounding a child’s removal
include neglect (61%) and drug abuse by parents (34%). The AFCARS report
indicates approximately 92,000 children were removed from their homes in FY
2016 because of a drug use problem.
The AFCARS report represents state and tribal child welfare data. State and
tribal IV-E agencies are required to submit case-level data to provide a
snapshot of children and youth in foster care, including demographics and
information on children, foster and adoptive parents, placement settings,
reasons for removal, and most common reason for discharge.
An overview of trends in foster care and child welfare adoptions since 2007 can
be found here: Trends inFoster Care and Adoption FY 2007–FY 2016.
The AFCARS report provides preliminary estimates of Adoption and Foster Care
Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data for FY 2016. This report reflects
all data received as of October 20, 2017 related to AFCARS reporting periods
through September 30, 2016.
Past AFCAR reports and other child welfare data can be
Additional child welfare resources can be found at The Child Welfare Gateway.
NASW child welfare related resources can be found
Some of the main challenges are access to affordable health care, climate change, and immigration and Dreamers — the last of which are now at the top of the list for many social workers, especially in border states.
National Foster Care Coalition
For almost two decades, the National Foster Care Coalition (NFCC) played a critical leadership role in child welfare and foster care reform. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, the Board of the NFCC made the difficult decision to close the NFCC's doors in spring 2017. With their remaining funds, the NFCC commissioned this report to outline the NFCC’s key contributions and challenges and to explore lessons learned. The report also includes recommendations for how we might fill persistent child welfare gaps left in the field moving forward.
As a member of the NFCC, NASW is pleased to share this report.
Stay up to date on NASW news and activities, including advocacy, professional education and training.