US: The Questions That Must Be Answered (Opinion)
Imprint – September 05, 2023
Seasons of sadness and confusion are a natural part of the life cycle for humans and their institutions. Although they are perhaps inevitable, they can be debilitating. The child welfare profession is in the middle of such a season right now. Unable to recruit and retain enough qualified staff, struggling to manage the front door of the system, resorting to the use of hotels and even agency waiting rooms for hard-to-place youth, the situation appears far more precarious than in previous years. As recently as a decade ago, we were hopeful that our goal of safely reducing the foster care population was possible and could be achieved through concerted, intentional and compassionate efforts to support families in their own homes and their own communities. In fact, since the turn of this century, there has been a marked reduction in the number of children in out-of-home care, supporting the notion that child welfare systems and personnel could adjust and incorporate new models of intervention. Some agencies struggled, of course, but most agencies were by no means “beleaguered,” the media’s favorite descriptor for our work. We’ve had reasons to be optimistic.