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Testimony: Child and Family Services Agency 2014 Oversight Hearing

In testimony today at the oversight hearing for DC’s Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA), Children’s Law Center Executive Director Judith Sandalow highlighted key agency initiatives that show continuing progress for children and families, as well as some challenges that must be confronted on the road ahead.

 Progress includes:    

  • New partnerships with community organizations and sister agencies have been developed as a result of CFSA having greater flexibility to use federal funds for evidenced-based programming that serves families in their homes and communities, and prevents children from coming into foster care. 
  • The percentage of children placed with relatives has increased considerably from 16% in 2012 to 24% in 2013 as a result of a new border agreement with Maryland that streamlined the interstate placement process, and new procedures for identifying family. 
  • Social workers, foster parents, guardians ad litem, and other stakeholders have been trained using the Trauma Systems Therapy model in order to promote a greater awareness of the impact trauma has on abused and neglected children. 

Current challenges:  

  • There is an inadequate ability to evaluate the effectiveness of CFSA’s Differential Response System intended to address the needs of lower-risk families with issues such as inadequate clothing or food because of limited data.
  • Despite recently implemented reforms, older youth in foster care still lack access to a full range of post-secondary education and training options until age 18. 
  • A limited scope of academic support to foster youth prevents many from managing unintended attendance disruptions and keeping pace with their non-foster peers in the classroom.  
  • The number of youth psychiatric hospitalizations remains high relative to the decreasing number of foster care youth. 

Read the full testimony as submitted to the Council.