Taking toys away from foster kids won’t fix dysfunctional child welfare systems

A recent op-ed published in The Washington Post suggested cuts in support to foster families to reduce “waste” in the DC child welfare system. According to its writer, “middle class” foster parents are “overpaid” to care for the children they take in, while others — like the relatives of vulnerable children — are suffering in tough economic times.

The problem? Most foster parents aren’t middle class. Many people fostering children in the custody of public child welfare system are the kids’ relatives. And reducing support for these families endangers foster family recruitment and retention — meaning there are fewer safe havens for kids taken into foster care, and a higher likelihood that they will be placed in group homes, institutions, and other less desirable (and more expensive) non-family settings.

Children’s Rights Executive Director Marcia Robinson Lowry has penned an op-ed for the Post advocating appropriate levels of support for foster families, dispelling the myth of the “middle class foster parent” — and calling for progress in the reform effort we’re leading in Washington, DC, to bring real benefits to vulnerable children and parents.

Writes Ms. Lowry:

The District’s fiscal problems are, of course, real. But they have not been helped by the District’s futile legal battle over the last year and a half to water down the requirements set forth by the federal court. Nor will they be helped by efforts to demonize foster families who open their hearts and their homes to abused and neglected kids.

Now is the time to take a hard look at what kind of management and planning changes are necessary to at long last meet the requirements of the federal court order and produce a system that thousands of abused and neglected kids and vulnerable families throughout the city deserve and desperately need.

You can read the full text here.