I design policy
The current design of the child welfare system is not working for most families and causes additional harm to some with impunity. Policymakers and advocates can create accountability and boldly invest in family and community health and wellbeing.
we shift funding away from systems and invest in communities?
- Child welfare agencies spend 45% of their budgets to finance the cost of out-of-home placements, and only 14% on preventive services. (Source: Child Welfare Financing, SFY 2020: A survey of federal, state and local expenditures. Child Trends.)
- Our research showed that many survivors of domestic violence who are involved in the child welfare system do not find workers or the system to be helpful in accessing support and resources, nor in holding their partner accountable for their violence and abuse. (Executive Summary, pg 4-5)
Bridges to Better calls on policymakers and advocates to shift funding away from systems and invest in survivor and community-led solutions.
Strategies to Address the Urgent Need for Change
Reduce Child Welfare's Harmful Impacts on Survivors
Listen to survivors to understand how equating domestic violence with child maltreatment, findings of “failure to protect”, racial biases, and gendered parenting expectations impact how they are perceived by child welfare.
Co-Design Policy with Survivors of Domestic Violence
Engage and support survivors and communities who are most harmed or marginalized by the current system – Black, Native American, Alaskan Native and Latina/o survivors – to re-design child welfare policy.
Invest in Protective Factors for Adult and Child Survivors
Embed protective factors in policy solutions – like establishing safer and more stable conditions (think housing, child care, and employment) that help adult and child survivors to stabilize and heal.
Invest in Economic Support and Legal Representation
The current child welfare menu of responses to domestic violence (i.e., restraining orders, counseling, battering intervention, parenting classes) is not sufficient to meet families’ needs. Increasing access to economic support reduces child maltreatment, and providing quality pre-petition legal representation prevents foster care.
Policymakers and policy advocates have a critical role in changing the landscape to build survivor-centered and community-connected solutions.
What can you do?
Reallocate state and federal funding to support family well-being and violence prevention.
Build relationships with relevant task forces and commissions to support changes to state and federal policy to redress harm to survivors, establish accountability for people who use violence, and reduce burden on families.