The Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Ways and Means Committee held a hearing this week titled, "Improving Programs Designed to Protect At-Risk Youth." I testified before the Subcommittee about my experiences 20 years ago as the crack-cocaine drug epidemic created a spike in the number of children removed from the home because of parental substance abuse. Families under great strain were confronted by this trauma, and grandparents began caring for and raising grandchildren, causing newfound challenges on the child welfare system.
I had the opportunity to highlight some of our nation's best practices in keeping families together, and I referenced our very own organization SHIELDS from South Los Angeles. Though we have come a long way in a short amount of time, the fact remains that there is still enormous work to do to improve our system to help at risk children and families. By providing help to families to prevent the spiral into abuse and neglect, we could avoid the substantial costs of foster care, the trauma of removal, and help families stay together.