The child welfare system provides a critical safety net for children when abuse or neglect is suspected or has occurred. While in-home prevention services support the majority of these families, children deemed to be at high risk may be placed with other relatives or in foster care. The child welfare system then assumes the legal responsibility, with supervision by the courts, to protect and support these children while they are in care.
This responsibility is substantial given the unique nature of each child’s situation and the many structural factors, including institutional racism and intergenerational poverty, that make it difficult for vulnerable families to thrive. Without working closely with other systems, child welfare services alone are rarely able to fully meet the needs of the young people in their care. Stoneleigh supports collaborative work that strengthens families to prevent out-of-home placement, ensures the well-being of youth in care, and helps older youth in foster care successfully transition to adulthood.
- Prevent out-of-home placement
The goal of the child welfare system is to help children remain safely in their homes whenever possible. Stoneleigh supports targeted prevention strategies that address the challenges that can lead to children being removed from their families, such as unsafe or unstable housing and parental mental health challenges or substance abuse. We also invest in work to break the intergenerational cycle of maltreatment, as we recognize that parents who had been involved in the system as children are particularly vulnerable when they become parents.
- Ensure the well-being of youth while in placement
Increasingly, child welfare policy has elevated the importance of ensuring the overall well-being of youth in foster care. A focus on well-being emphasizes the public sector’s responsibility to promote young people’s education, health, and social development. Stoneleigh prioritizes cross-system work to ensure these aims, as well as broader efforts to keep children connected to their families while in care and ensure timely reunification when appropriate.
- Meet the unique needs of older youth in placement
The transition to adulthood can be especially challenging for young people who are involved in the child welfare system. Adolescents require assistance that addresses their unique needs—particularly those who are pregnant, parenting, identify as LGBTQ, and/or are involved with the juvenile justice system. Youth who exit care without permanent connections too often struggle with unstable housing and homelessness, unemployment, and completing their education. We invest in work to ensure youth leave the system with the robust relationships and supports necessary to become successful adults.