A federal focus on prevention would help in Minnesota
By Bruce Lesley
Yes, progress on child abuse and neglect will require real investments (“Better child protection is going to cost,” May 12). But reform in Washington could accelerate progress, by focusing on prevention. Federal funding shortchanges prevention efforts that help parents manage mental health, substance abuse, financial distress, and other abuse and neglect risk factors. Today, the federal government pays $4 for foster care for every $1 on prevention. And federal foster care funding is insufficient, covering less than half of eligible kids. Continued underfunding of prevention will only drain this already-shallow funding pool.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is developing legislation to invest in prevention. His plan would allow federal funds to help at-risk kids before they enter foster care, and it directs increased investments to prevention initiatives with proven track records of effectiveness. The likely result: stronger families, safer children and better value for taxpayers. Local and state resources are absolutely essential. But better federal child abuse and neglect policy would make every local and state dollar invested go further. If Minnesota wants better outcomes for kids, Minnesota’s leaders in Congress must also reform child abuse and neglect funding...
Bruce Lesley, Washington, D.C.
The writer is president of the First Focus Campaign for Children.