Family foster care is supposed to provide temporary protection and nurturing for children experiencing maltreatment. Although it has long been a critical service for millions of children in the United States, the increased attention given to this service in the last two decades has focused more on its inability to achieve its intended outcomes than on its successes. However, as social and political trends and new legislation reshape child welfare, policymakers and service providers continue to offer innovative policy and practice options for this child welfare service. Though use of the service has changed, family foster care remains important.  Responding to a widespread sense of the "drifting" of children in care, Congress passed the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. This legislation became a key factor shaping the current status of family foster care. Its goal was to reduce reliance on out-of-home care and encourage use of preventive and reunification services; it also mandated that agencies engage in planning efforts for permanent solutions for foster children. Yet, despite federal mandates and funding, the child welfare system has continued to struggle to provide the level of services needed for children to reduce the amount of time children remain in temporary foster care. The latest response to these problems, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, established unequivocally that safety, permanency, and well-being were national goals for children in the child welfare system. To comply with the law, public and private agencies are required to initiate significant program and practice changes in the coming years to improve permanency outcomes and child well-being in family foster care.  The central theme of the volume is accountability for outcomes, certainly a current driving force in child welfare as well as in other public and private service fields. This volume will be of interest to all concerned with the social welfare of children and families at the end of the twentieth century.  Kathy Barbell is director of Foster Care of the Child Welfare League of America, Washington, DC.  Lois Wright is assistant dean at the College of Social Work, University of South Carolina, Columbia.

chapter |12 pages


Family Foster Care in the Next Century

chapter 2|22 pages

Measuring Performance in Child Welfare

Secondary Effects of Success

chapter 4|18 pages

Concurrent Planning

Benefits and Pitfalls

chapter 5|20 pages

Shared Family Care

Providing Services to Parents and Children Placed Together in Out-of-Home Care

chapter 6|18 pages

Professional Foster Care

A Future Worth Pursuing?

chapter 7|24 pages

Completing the Evaluation Triangle for the Next Century

Measuring Child “Well-Being” in Family Foster Care

chapter 8|18 pages

Starting Young

Improving the Health and Developmental Outcomes of Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System