Since the cost of making sure children are attended to properly is hardly ever discussed openly, I thought it would help to shed some light on this. Federal, state, and local legislatures preside over the allocation of hundreds of billions of tax dollars every year because of abusive parenting. We don’t talk openly in America about the tens of millions of children being abused each year, and we certainly don’t talk about what it costs us. So, I am providing a glimpse of what goes on in legislatures all over this country every year.
- Title IV-B Child Welfare Services: Child welfare services to prevent abuse and neglect; foster care; reunite families; arrange adoptions; ensure adequate foster care— $290 million.
- Title IV-B Family Preservations and Support: Services to support families and prevent need for foster care—$405 million.
- Title IV-E Foster Care: Payments to foster care providers; basic maintenance including children’s food and shelter; case management/administrative costs; training of agency staff and foster parents—$4.6 billion.
- Title IV-E Adoption Assistance: Payments to adoptive parents; maintenance; child placement/administrative activities; training of agency staff and adoptive parents—$1.5 billion.
- Title IV-E Adoption Incentive Payments: $43 million.
- Title IV-E Chafee Foster Care Independence Program: Independent living support services—$182 million.
TOTAL: $7.02 BILLION.
States have limited ability to invest in family support initiatives that help prevent or provide alternatives to foster care placement. And once children have been placed in foster care, states have little financial incentive to shorten the length of foster care stays because there is inadequate federal funding for family reunification and preservation services to keep children out of foster care.
And these are not the only programs providing funds. So, if greater emphasis was placed on ensuring good parenting, like one of my suggestions in my article Licensing Parents, there would be less need for the government to step in. I’m glad the government does help, but we need to stop the abuse of children from happening in the first place.
1 Roseana Bess, Cynthia Andrews, Amy Jantz, Victoria Russell, Rob Green, 2002. The Cost of Protecting Vulnerable Children III: What Factors Affect States’ Fiscal Decisions? Washington, D.C. The Urban Institute: Assessing the New Federalism. Occasional Paper No. 61.