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April 2013Vol. 14, No. 3Funding Reinvestment in Child Welfare

While child welfare agencies are trying to identify and use evidence-based practices to improve well-being outcomes for families, they are also dealing with significant economic challenges. Noting that child welfare agencies are operating under evolving conditions, Casey Family Programs published a research brief providing strategies for shifting resources to maximize their effectiveness and efficiency.

The brief suggests that, in order to free up funds for investing in the latest child welfare innovations and interventions, agencies need to first reduce investments in less effective programs (descaling). Examples of ineffective initiatives are:

  • Short-term emergency foster care placements
  • Nonspecific psychotherapy
  • Long-term congregate care
  • Ineffective parenting skills classes

Funds for these ineffective programs can then be reallocated to finance evidence-based practices. For each of the above examples of an ineffective initiative, the brief provides an example of a State that successfully shifted its resources to fund a more effective practice. Yellow Medicine County, MN, for example, reduced spending on foster care placements from over $635,000 in 2002 to $70,000 in 2009 after implementing restorative justice and Signs of Safety frameworks. The brief concludes by suggesting financing and implementation strategies that agencies can use in their funding reinvestment initiatives.     

Shifting Resources in Child Welfare to Achieve Better Outcomes for Children is available on the Casey Family Programs website: