Mar 17, 2010, Vol: 17, No: 12
Sixty percent of the parents with children in the state’s child welfare system had trouble getting enough food for the family last year, according to a social survey done by Partners with Our Children.
The data collected by the public-private organization were a part of an independent evaluation of the state’s Department of Social and Health Services. Its purpose was to better engage parents in DSHS’s work to reunite biological families after the children had been put into foster care.
The report was presented at the February Legislative session at the request of Representative Ruth Kagi, who is the chair of the House Early Learning and Children’s Services Committee. “The study is really valuable,” Kagi said. “It really helps us to understand how parents view our child welfare system and what are the major barriers they are facing, which we need to address.”
Of the parents surveyed, over 70 percent were unable to pay the rent or mortgage, buy needed clothing or pay an important bill at some point in the past 12 months. Roughly 50 percent had been homeless, evicted or had to move in with family or friends. Annual income was $10,000 or less for about half of the families.
Parents also said they prized the state’s ability to help them meet basic needs like food or housing over services for substance abuse, domestic violence or anger management. But they agreed with social workers that learning parenting skills is a high priority.
“The social worker can help get families the services they need to overcome the conditions that caused the child’s removal,” said the Director of Partners for Our Children Mark Courtney. “But the worker usually doesn’t have access to resources to provide basic, concrete services like housing. This raises important policy issues.”<< Back to Article Details