“The Congress finds as follows:
For Federal fiscal year 2004, child protective services (CPS) staff nationwide reported investigating or assessing an estimated 3,000,000 allegations of child maltreatment, and determined that 872,000 children had been abused or neglected by their parents or other caregivers.
Combined, the Child Welfare Services (CWS) and Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) programs provide States about $700,000,000 per year, the largest source of targeted Federal funding in the child protection system for services to ensure that children are not abused or neglected and, whenever possible, help children remain safely with their families.
A 2003 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that little research is available on the effectiveness of activities supported by CWS funds—evaluations of services supported by PSSF funds have generally shown little or no effect.
Further, the Department of Health and Human Services recently completed initial Child and Family Service Reviews (CFSRs) in each State. No State was in full compliance with all measures of the CFSRs. The CFSRs also revealed that States need to work to prevent repeat abuse and neglect of children, improve services provided to families to reduce the risk of future harm (including by better monitoring the participation of families in services), and strengthen upfront services provided to families to prevent unnecessary family break-up and protect children who remain at home.
Federal policy should encourage States to invest their CWS and PSSF funds in services that promote and protect the welfare of children, support strong, healthy families, and reduce the reliance on out-of-home care, which will help ensure all children are raised in safe, loving families.
CFSRs also found a strong correlation between frequent caseworker visits with children and positive outcomes for these children, such as timely achievement of permanency and other indicators of child well-being.
However, a December 2005 report by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General found that only 20 States were able to produce reports to show whether caseworkers actually visited children in foster care on at least a monthly basis, despite the fact that nearly all States had written standards suggesting monthly visits were State policy.
A 2003 GAO report found that the average tenure for a child welfare caseworker is less than 2 years and this level of turnover negatively affects safety and permanency for children.
Targeting CWS and PSSF funds to ensure children in foster care are visited on at least a monthly basis will promote better outcomes for vulnerable children, including by preventing further abuse and neglect.
According to the Office of Applied Studies of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the annual number of new uses of Methamphetamine, also known as ‘meth,’ has increased 72 percent over the past decade. According to a study conducted by the National Association of Counties which surveyed 500 county law enforcement agencies in 45 states, 88 percent of the agencies surveyed reported increases in meth related arrests starting 5 years ago.
According to the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 12,000,000 Americans have tried methamphetamine. Meth making operations have been uncovered in all 50 states, but the most wide-spread abuse has been concentrated in the western, southwestern, and Midwestern United States.
Methamphetamine abuse is on the increase, particularly among women of child-bearing age. This is having an impact on child welfare systems in many States. According to a survey administered by the National Association of Counties (‘The Impact of Meth on Children’), conducted in 300 counties in 13 states, meth is a major cause of child abuse and neglect. Forty percent of all the child welfare officials in the survey reported an increase in out-of-home placements because of meth in 2005.
It is appropriate also to target PSSF funds to address this issue because of the unique strain the meth epidemic puts on child welfare agencies. Outcomes for children affected by meth are enhanced when services provided by law enforcement, child welfare and substance abuse agencies are integrated.”