Published on Tuesday September 29th, 2009
By Carie Benton

Agencies charged with protecting foster youth and making sure they get the help they need may actually be doing more harm than good, falling far short of their mission to ensure that foster children are safe and looked after.

Fragmented responsibilities, interagency competition, and institutional culture clashes prevent cooperation and can harm foster children and their families, says a new book, Child Welfare: The Challenges of Collaboration by Timothy Ross.

Ross identifies the obstacles frustrating service coordination and details ways to strengthen the fragile web connecting the many systems involved in protecting foster youth. Child welfare agencies, for instance, often have responsibility for a child when a family crisis arises, but not the authority or capacity to resolve it without cooperation from other government divisions.

When complex systems and bureaucracies have overlapping jurisdiction, says Ross, fine-tuned coordination is the exception and not the rule.

Among the types of problems he ...

child, welfare