Children’s Law Center’s executive director Judith Sandalow testified today before the DC Council’s Committee on Human Services at the budget hearing for the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA). Read a summary below or review her full written testimony as submitted to the committee.
CFSA has made tremendous progress in implementing a new strategic vision in the past year, building a child welfare system that removes that removes fewer children from home, places more children with kin, and ensures shorter stays for children who ultimately must be removed and placed into foster care. This is a very positive shift. With the decrease in the foster care population, some decrease in CFSA’s budget is to be expected. However, the proposed $16 million reduction raises concerns. In order to ensure the safety and well-being of the increasing number of children whom we are leaving at home and with kin, we must reinvest the resulting savings in programs that meet the needs of these fragile families. Reinvestment could be within CFSA or sister agencies in the human services cluster.
CFSA proposes several investments that should allow more children to remain safely with their immediate families or kin rather than enter into foster care: expanding the differential response program, sustaining the grandparent caregiver program, and providing substance abuse services and pre-removal legal services to families. The agency has also proposed new supports for foster parents, especially kinship caregivers. Additionally, as part of its proposed increase in contractual services, CFSA proposes $1 million in funding for expedited reunification services and post-reunification services to families that are already involved with the agency.