Keeping kids out of foster care saves families — and state money (Boston Globe)

Below is an excerpt from an editorial published by the Boston Globe on April 22 explaining the need and benefit of legal intervention for families dealing with DCF. Community Legal Aid’s Madeline Weaver Blanchette and Massachusetts Law Reform Insitute’s Susan Elsen are quoted.

There are lots of good ways to spend money to help families and children. Rarer are policies that help families while saving money.

Yet that is the likely outcome when programs intervene early to stabilize families involved with the Department of Children and Families and prevent children’s removal. When families can safely remain together, it saves children and parents anguish while avoiding costly foster care placements and court cases.

For the past couple of years, funding from the courts and the state has supported pilot programs where lawyers, social workers, parent advocates, and mediators intervene with families when a DCF case is opened. While more study of these programs’ outcomes is needed, early evidence is promising, and similar models are being expanded nationwide. Massachusetts should ensure there is stable funding for these programs and that they are given the resources needed to expand. The investment will pay off in dollars and, more importantly, in children’s lives.

These programs generally do not deal with allegations of child abuse. But more than 85 percent of the approximately 23,600 children DCF found to have experienced mistreatment in fiscal 2022, the latest data available, involved neglect, a category often influenced by poverty. It is those cases where efforts to stabilize a family can sometimes alleviate DCF’s concerns.

Read more at the Boston Globe.