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December/January 2019Vol. 19, No. 10Improving Child Welfare Through Primary Prevention

A video from the Capacity Building Center for Courts featuring Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau, discusses the importance of proactively preventing child maltreatment and investing in the capacity of parents to keep their children safe rather than disproportionately investing in supports and services, such as foster care, after children have already suffered maltreatment. 

According to Jerry Milner, the legal and judicial system, in collaboration with child welfare, have the responsibility to take measures to ensure children do not have to enter foster care unless it is absolutely necessary. If out-of-home care becomes the only option, attorneys, judges, and child welfare agencies should keep the child and his or her family's well-being in the forefront of their decision-making.

Dr. Milner gives five examples of ways the legal, judicial, and child welfare systems can work together to keep children out of foster care:

  • Focus on primary prevention
  • Change the foster care system itself by making sure parents and children are adequately represented and that their rights are protected and their voices heard
  • Focus on the overall well-being of children and families
  • Strengthen the capacity of communities to support the children and families who live there and provide the critical services they need before—and after—they become involved with child welfare
  • Make sure those working to serve children and families (e.g., child welfare professionals, attorneys, agencies) take measures to ensure their own health and resilience in order to continue their important work

To view the video, "Imagine a New Child Welfare System," visit