Friday July 24, 2009
9-11 AM ET
Join us for a thoughtful discussion of children's policy and the new book Reforming Child Welfare. Panelists will explore strategies for improving and revitalizing the last safety net for vulnerable children and families, the public child welfare system.
Too often, child welfare policy and the agencies responsible for it—offices that respond to child abuse and neglect, oversee foster care placements, and seek to reunite children with their parents or find adoptive families—are out of sight and out of mind except for fleeting moments of tragedy, such as a child's death. Yet this topic is crucial: many children come into contact with child welfare agencies each year, and far more live in highly vulnerable families with some of the same challenges and risks. Further, leaders' successes and failures dealing with these extraordinarily difficult issues hold lessons for other areas of public policy and agency reform.
The panel will consider lessons from state agencies, ambitious national reform proposals, and research on child development, child welfare, and organizational change. Drawing on their wide-ranging and high-level experience in state and federal government, the panelists will also explore lessons for other areas of public policy and public service.
Questions to be considered will include:
• What works in child welfare today? What are the major failures?
• What changes in national policy and state practice would make the most difference for these very vulnerable children?
• What does it take to achieve ambitious reform? To transform historically troubled organizations amid difficult political conditions?
• What role can accountability, data, and performance measurement play in improving performance in child welfare and other human services fields?
• What does the legislative landscape look like today for children's policy as it affects the most vulnerable children?
• Looking ahead, what are the challenges and opportunities for state agencies seeking to reform child welfare?
• Donna Shalala, president, University of Miami
• Olivia Golden, author, Reforming Child Welfare
• Brenda Donald, secretary, Maryland Department of Human Services
• Christine Calpin, consultant; former associate commissioner, Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families
• Barbara Pryor, senior legislative assistant, Office of Senator Jay Rockefeller
Moderator: Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer