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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Child welfare has changed in some superficial ways over the years but key problems remain. The foster care population is once again rising, and most states fall far short of meeting even lax federal standards. States seem to have short attention spans to address these problems, reacting to the inevitable abuse- or neglect-related deaths of children with calls for more “preventive” services, while many such services are often inadequate, unproven, and not individualized. Rather than tolerating systemic problems—such as the shortage of meaningful services, high worker caseloads, and low numbers of foster homes, particularly adequate ones—many states continue to seek to reduce their in-care populations, leaving children with neither foster care nor necessary services. Litigation on behalf of children can change that, or at least move things forward. Marcia Robinson Lowry, a long-time child advocate engaged in many landmark child welfare lawsuits, surveys the current landscape from the vantage point of years seeking to reform child welfare systems, points out the advantages to this litigation, and urges more common sense approaches to delivering what children need.

Keywords: kinship foster parents, monitoring, contempt of court, adoption, child welfare, litigation, receivership

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