Purpose of Action in Advocacy

The purpose of Action in Advocacy is to present timely and relevant topics through a series of Issue Briefs focused on improving safety, permanency, and well-being. Understanding how these issues impact child and family outcomes is foundational to the actions of advocates for children and youth who have been abused or neglected and/or are living in foster care.

The children and families volunteers advocate for face a number of challenges and issues that require their knowledgeable and skilled actions. It is hoped that the issue topics presented will inspire readers to learn more about the topic and try out recommended actions when addressing these issues with the children and families they advocate on behalf of. The “bright spots” included in each of the issue briefs will hopefully spur on a desire to share promising practices across the CASA network as this guide is meant to encourage a broader shared learning community.

Supporting safety, permanency and well-being

Until recently, federal investment in keeping children safe and families stable focused primarily on removing them from their homes and placing them in out-of-home care. Each year, over 400,000 children in the United States are served in the foster care system. Most of them live in relative or non-relative foster homes and it is estimated that the cost of foster care of close to $30 billion annually. Unfortunately, removing children from their families and placing them in foster care has not resulted in the kinds of positive outcomes that every child deserves. In fact, most children who have experienced abuse and neglect are further traumatized when they are removed from their families. And for the over 20,000 youth who age out of the child welfare system each year without reaching a permanent placement in a family, they too often suffer significant challenges including homelessness, unemployment, substance use, mental and physical health issues and criminal convictions.

With the recent passage of the Family First Prevention Act of 2018, an opportunity to rethink how we ensure the safety and success of every child and family served by advocates presents itself. This landmark legislation calls for new ways of supporting families before they are in crisis and ultimately preventing the need for foster care.  It also promotes the development and implementation of promising and evidence-based solutions to help improve permanency and well-being outcomes for children and families.