Letters to the Editor

Helping foster kids

In his Other Views article, Nelson Hincapie cites real problems with Florida foster care (The foster-care system has failed our children, Dec. 8) and rightly urges action in Tallahassee. But reform also requires action in Washington.

The biggest federal child abuse and neglect funding source is restricted to offsetting states’ foster-care costs. That shrinking funding stream covers less than half of foster children today, and it’s projected to drop 45 percent by 2024. States tap other social services funding to cover the shortfall, but that just shifts resources from one set of kids and families to another. Worse yet, today’s federal funding system shortchanges prevention efforts that help parents manage mental health, substance abuse, financial distress and other factors that contribute to abuse and neglect.

Congress is considering reform legislation. It would ensure that federal funds cover every foster child, but it would limit funding to three years, creating incentives to find kids permanent homes and families. Savings would be reinvested in prevention — initiatives that make families more resilient and avoid abuse and neglect.

They say you get what you pay for. If Florida wants better outcomes for kids, Florida’s representatives in Washington must reform federal child abuse and neglect funding.

Bruce Lesley, president, First Focus, Washington, D.C.