Social work faculty contributes to statewide program

first_imgThe Children’s Data Network contributed to the research behind the Emergency Child Care Bridge, which will go into effect January. Photo courtesy of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social WorkThe Children’s Data Network at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work played an important role in the development a new statewide social welfare program. The Emergency Child Care Bridge Program, which will go into effect in January, is a $31 million proposal to increase financial assistance and services for foster children and their families across California. “It’s an example of all the work that we do at the Children’s Data Network,” said Jacquelyn McCroskey, co-director of the network. “We develop agreements and partnerships with agencies that serve children and families and then we look at where you have overlapping population. We were very interested from the beginning in early childhood education because we know that … participation in high quality programs can really stimulate child development.” The funding for the bridge program was approved earlier this year when California’s budget was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. The program aims to increase access to early care and education services for foster children and will give foster care families with six-month emergency child care vouchers if they are taking care of children from birth to age 5. The program will also help social workers and families find long-term child care, fund support for parenting youth in the child welfare system and increase trauma-informed training for child care providers. The network helped develop the program by linking administrative data from different systems that serve foster children and their families, McCroskey said. This allowed the program’s developers to better understand the children who are being served by multiple sectors, and the interaction between families and communities. Through a partnership with the Child Care Resource Center, the Children’s Data Network was able to develop a relationship with the California Department of Social Services as well as the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. This allowed the network to study children who were served by both systems — the child welfare system and the subsidized early childhood education system.“There is very little information about children served by both the systems,” McCroskey said. “The fact that we can do it for even one part of L.A. County turned out to be quite important, because what we were able to show was that there actually is a good deal of overlap between children served by both the systems, and nobody really knew that before.” Through the Bridge Program, the network is trying to improve the relationships that already exist but aren’t always recognized. According to McCroskey, the lack of adequate support for foster families has been a recurring problem in California, because finding adequate child care is an issue in households where both adults work. Genie Chough, assistant deputy director of external relations at L.A. County DCFS, was another key figure in developing the Bridge Program legislation. The average cost for a toddler in a child care center in California is more than $1,000 per month, she said.Child care is most important, Chough said, because strong evidence points to the positive effects that an early education gives for children. “Those effects are exponentially greater in kids who have been abused and neglected,” Chough said. “The secondary benefit of the program is that it not only helps the kids, but also their caretakers, because child care has been a barrier for the foster parents.”Maria Romero, the DFCS child care program director, said that L.A. County is developing plans to provide better services for foster families.“We do recognize that there is an issue,” Romero said. “But we are diligently addressing those issues so that we have a stronger network connection with the [foster] resource families.” To address these issues that the foster families have been facing, CDN, along with the Child Care Resource Center, published three policy papers that demonstrated the link between child welfare and early childhood education.According to McCroskey, there is a disconnect between the child care systems and families interested in utilizing services.“Any family who loses support, who loses a job [or] who experiences some kind of an unexpected family crisis can be referred to the child welfare department,” McCroskey said. “I just believe that there was probably a lot of going back and forth between these systems that we just didn’t understand.”last_img

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *