FIJ Quarterly - Summer 2022 Edition

Greeting (Mother Theresa and Gandhi), NYC

© Anisa Rahim

care program under Title IV-E, specifically devoted to paying to separate children from their families. Recent attempts to increase the availability of “prevention” services to keep families safely together, as in the Family First Prevention and Services Act (FFPSA), limit the funding to circumstances in which a family is already in trouble and children are on the verge of entering foster care. Even then, they are only eligible for a pre-determined menu of clinical treatments that have met increasingly high standards of evidence of effectiveness. Hardly any of these eligible services have been tested on the families most over-represented in foster care, Black and Indigenous families, yet we offer them anyway. And, in placing our focus on clinical interventions alone, we ignore the social conditions, historical trauma, and debilitating demands on poor families to hold

it all together. In essence, it is the opposite of a community-based approach to supporting children and families before child welfare is needed. It is another example of writing prescriptions for symptoms and failing to examine the causes of pre-existing conditions. In this case, those conditions are societal, but their threat to physical health and emotional well-being is just as strong as any disease. When three-quarters of the substantiated child maltreatment reports each year are for various forms and widely divergent definitions of neglect, when most of those reports are tied somehow to poverty, when one quarter of children entering foster care do so solely due to overly broad definitions of neglect—funding a system continuing to treat only the symptoms of conditions we have failed to address makes little sense. It yields the precise results we now see in child welfare: long separations from

FIJ Quarterly | Summer 2022 | 7

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