Policy Reports

Publications are listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first). For more detailed information about any of these projects, or to browse them by category, please visit the Policy Projects section of our site.

For journal articles, please click here.

What Works in Child Welfare Reform: Reducing Reliance on Congregate Care in Tennessee (2011)

Spurred by a child welfare reform campaign initially filed in 2000 by Children’s Rights, the state of Tennessee has employed a number of strategies over the years to dramatically reduce its reliance on institutions — and now placesthe vast majority of youth in foster care with relatives and foster families. This report not only explores the ways this change in practice has positively affected youth in the state’s care, but also how other jurisdictions can emulate Tennessee’s success.





Ensuring High-Quality Kinship Care for Children in Wisconsin (2011)

The state of Wisconsin recently launched a new effort to license and train relatives following a legislative change in 2009 requiring relatives caring for foster youth to apply for a foster home license. This report evaluates the implementation of this new policy shift in Wisconsin, and offers specific recommendations that would help ensure that foster youth living with relatives are just as safe as those living with unrelated foster parents.





The Long Road Home: A Study of Children Stranded in New York City Foster Care

The Long Road Home: A Study of Children Stranded in New York City Foster Care (2009)

An in-depth report on the New York City child welfare system detailing problems that delay the progress of children in New York City foster care toward reunification with their parents, adoption, or permanency through legal guardianship — and making concrete recommendations about how these problems can be solved.





Hitting the M.A.R.C.: Establishing Foster Care Minimum Adequate Rates for Children (2007)

The first-ever nationwide, state-by-state calculation of the real cost of supporting children in foster care, revealing widespread deficiencies in reimbursement rates across the nation — and major disparities among the states — and proposing a new standard rate for each state to use in fulfilling the federal requirement to provide foster parents with payments to cover the basic needs of children in foster care, including food, shelter, clothing and school supplies.




At the Crossroads — Better Infrastructure, Too Few Results: A Decade of Child Welfare Reform in New York City (2007)

A comprehensive assessment of the performance of the New York City child welfare system, revealing that despite a decade of reforms and improvements in the system’s infrastructure and in certain aspects of case practice, safety and permanency outcomes for many children and families have not significantly improved and, in some cases, have worsened.




Promoting Child Welfare Workforce Improvements Through Federal Policy Changes (2007)

A major initiative of Children’s Rights and the Children’s Defense Fund comprising three reports, several proposals for changes to federal policy, and ongoing outreach to federal legislators in support of improvements to the child welfare workforce nationwide.

Related publications:

Components of an Effective Child Welfare Workforce to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families (2006)

List of References for Components of an Effective Child Welfare Workforce (2006)

Supporting and Improving the Child Welfare Workforce: A Review of Program Improvement Plans and Recommendations for Strengthening Child and Family Services Reviews (PDF) (2006)


Improving the Child Welfare Workforce: Lessons Learned from Class Action Litigation (2007)

A study of efforts to improve the child welfare workforce in the context of class action litigation in 12 states and localities across the nation, documenting the progress made and barriers encountered and providing a set of recommendations to guide current and future reform efforts.





Forgotten Children: Children with Disabilities in Foster Care (2006)

A comprehensive review of the literature on the needs of children with disabilities in foster care, focusing on abuse and neglect, health and medical issues, educational challenges, foster parent training and support, and aging out of the foster care system.






Ending the Foster Care Life Sentence: The Critical Need for Adoption Subsidies (2006)

A study of the impact of adoption subsidies on adoption, including a survey of hundreds of adoptive and prospective adoptive parents in six states to learn firsthand about the impact of adoption subsidies on their decision to adopt.





Finding a Fit that will Last a Lifetime: A Guide to Connecting Adoptive Families with Waiting Children (2006)

A best-practices guide to help caseworkers match children with prospective adoptive families, developed through interviews with child welfare professionals, adoptive families, and young adults formerly in foster care and designed to increase the number of successful, long-term adoptions.


Lasting Impressions: A Guide to Photolisting Children

Designed for adoption professionals and foster families who will be preparing children to be photolisted, this guide includes step-by-step instruction on how to write descriptions of children and take or arrange children’s photographs, and covers best practices on sharing information about children that will be viewed through channels that everyone can access.


A Critical Assessment of Concurrent Planning: What is its Role in Permanency Planning? (2006)

States and cities across the country are now implementing concurrent planning as an answer to expediting permanency for children in foster care. This report documents the implementation of the process in New York State. Featuring interviews with state and national child welfare professionals as well as focus groups with parents, foster parents, and caseworkers, this report examines the challenges posed by concurrent planning and offers recommendations to strengthen the practice to effectively serve children in foster care and their families.


The Role of Emergency Care as a Child Welfare Service (Executive Summary, 2005)

A qualitative study of emergency care, designed to achieve a better understanding of the use of emergency care services throughout the country and its impact on children.

Full report available for order from the Child Welfare League of America.






Permanent Solutions: Seeking Family Stability for Youth in Foster Care (2005)

An in-depth analysis of systemwide statistical data provided by New York’s Administration of Children’s Services and interviews with more than 70 parents, young adults formerly in foster care, adoptive parents and child welfare professionals. Concrete recommendations suggest actions that can be taken to help move children through the system more quickly.





Continuing Danger: Child Fatalities in New York City (2003-2004)

Two reports taking an in-depth look at child deaths in New York City from 1999-2001 and from 2003-2004.






A Return to Orphanages? (2004)

A comprehensive report on child welfare systems’ reliance on group homes and institutions as placements for children in foster care, concluding that despite what is known from research about the highly negative impact of institutional care on children, “orphanages” are unfortunately likely to remain a placement option for foster children in many communities.


Time Running Out: Teens in Foster Care (2003)

An in-depth look at the experiences and outcomes for youth in congregate care in New York City, addressing placements, services, safety, and permanency for youth in congregate care, including youth involvement in planning and decision-making and youth transitioning out of the foster care system.






A Case of Double Jeopardy? Youth Involvement in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems (executive summary, 2004)

A comprehensive look at the experiences of young people in foster care who have committed delinquent acts, examining the extent to which law, policy, and practice support appropriate outcomes for young people, and the ability of child welfare officials and foster parents to advocate on behalf of these children.

Full report available for order from the Child Welfare League of America.





An Assessment of the Privatization of Child Welfare Services: Challenges and Successes (Executive Summary, 2003)

An in-depth study of six privatization initiatives across the country, offering “lessons learned” and providing specific recommendations to assist communities that may be considering a privatization effort.

Full report available for order from the Child Welfare League of America.


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