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					     IN                                                                     CHILDREN’S
                                                                            RIGHTS                                       Winter 2007


                          Hitting the MARC: Report on Foster
                          Care Rates Sparks National Dialogue
                          Children’s Rights made national
                          headlines in early October with
                          the release of a comprehensive
                          report on foster care reimburse-
                          ment rates that found many states
                          falling far short of their respon-
                          sibility to cover the costs of sup-
                          porting children in foster care.

                          Titled “Hitting the MARC:
                          Establishing Foster Care
                          Minimum Adequate Rates for
                          Children,” the report repre-
                          sents the first-ever nationwide,
                          state-by-state calculation of the
                          real expenses of providing for
                          the basic needs of children in
                          foster care—including hous-           All states are required by federal law to cover the basic needs of children in
                          ing, food, clothing, and school       foster care, including clothing, food, and housing.

                          supplies—and proposes a new
                          standard rate, called the “Foster     to reach them, and five states            said Julie Farber, director of
                          Care MARC,” for each state.           must more than double their               policy for Children’s Rights. “At
                                                                rates to comply.                          a time when increasing numbers
                          According to the report’s find-                                                 of abused and neglected children
                          ings, states across the nation        Children’s Rights collaborated            are housed in institutions and
                          must raise their foster care rates    on the report with the Universi-          the number of foster parents is
                          by an average of 36 percent to        ty of Maryland School of Social           in steady decline in many places,
                          cover the actual costs of sup-        Work and the National Foster              this constitutes a crisis.”
                          porting a child in foster care.       Parent Association.
                                                                                                          On any given day, there are more
                                                                                                          than 500,000 children in foster
                            StateS acroSS                                                                 care in the U.S. Seventy-five
                                                                                                          percent of them are placed by
                              the nation muSt                                                             the government with foster par-
                                                                                                          ents, and nearly 20 percent are
                           raise their rates                                                              placed in group homes and in-

                             by an average of                                                             stitutions. “Hitting the MARC”
                                                                                                          cites evidence that inadequate

                           thirty-six percent.                                                            foster care rates negatively af-
                                                                                                          fect foster parent recruitment
Children’s Rights
                                                                                                                        Continues on page 3
330 Seventh Avenue
                          Only Arizona and the District of      “There is a growing body of
New York, NY 10001        Columbia are currently meet-          evidence that the inadequacy of
212.683.2210              ing or exceeding the proposed         current reimbursement rates is
                                                                                                               On the Web:
                                                                                                                www.childrensrights.org/
                          standards; 23 states must raise       taking a heavy toll on foster par-              hittingthemarc
www.childrensrights.org   their rates by 50 to 100 percent      ent recruitment and retention,”
When I called the director of Michigan’s child welfare agency in the summer of 2006 to tell her that
Children’s Rights would be filing suit on behalf of the 19,000 abused and neglected children in state
custody, she was surprised. As far as she knew, her system was moving along exactly as it should.

A number of facts pointed in the other direction.

Michigan has made legal orphans of an extraordinarily high number of children in its care—more
than 6,000—terminating their parents’ rights without making necessary efforts to find them new,
permanent families.

Seven thousand children live in unlicensed foster homes with relatives who receive neither reim-
                                                                                                         BoARD oF DIRECToRS
bursement from the state for the cost of the children’s clothing, food, and other basic needs, nor
many of the support services necessary to help them begin to recover from the abuse and neglect          Stuart H. Coleman
they have endured.                                                                                       Robin L. Dahlberg
                                                                                                         Lynn M. Edens
Worst of all, a continuing series of deaths among children in the system has made it clear that in its   Richard D. Emery
responsibility to protect Michigan’s abused and neglected children, the system was—and is—failing
                                                                                                         Lawrence J. Fox
miserably.
                                                                                                         Dan Galpern

In recent testimony, the director of the child welfare agency said that at the time she took over, she   Jeffrey Gracer
had other priorities and was focused on other things. We hear this too often from the people who         Marcia Robinson Lowry
run the systems we set out to reform. When we undertake our reform campaigns, however, they              Howard Maisel
tend to get focused very fast.                                                                           Alan C. Myers
                                                                                                         Alice Rosenwald
Children’s Rights negotiated a proposed settlement with the state of Michigan over a period of
                                                                                                         Melissa Salten
six months, during which the director received a crash course in all that was going wrong. That
settlement was abandoned last May, apparently a casualty of the severe budget crisis that has beset      Carol Wilson Spigner
the state, and the director resigned shortly thereafter. But before she left, she helped to develop a    Anne Strickland Squadron
reform plan that includes many elements of the settlement we had proposed.

Now, despite the fiscal crunch, the state legislature has made a down payment on that plan in the        Children’s Rights is a
form of an increase of over $20 million in its child welfare budget. Children’s Rights is still headed   national watchdog
for trial in Michigan, scheduled for June 2008, because we believe that the system has been both         organization advocating
underfunded and badly managed for so long that even this initial infusion of money will not solve        on behalf of abused and
the underlying problems that have put so many of Michigan’s abused and neglected children in             neglected children in
grave danger. But there can be no question that this sudden increase in funding—and the reform           the U.S. Since 1995, the
plan it is intended to support—is a direct result of our work.                                           organization has used
                                                                                                         legal action and policy
Reforming broken child welfare systems is a long and extremely complicated process. Conditions           initiatives to create lasting
on the ground can change very quickly, setbacks can become depressingly routine, and progress            improvements in child
often comes at an agonizingly slow pace. But every step of the way, one way or another, we are           protection, foster care
forcing those systems to face up to their responsibility to the abused and neglected children in         and adoption.
their care—and to begin the vital process of making tangible improvements in their lives.
                                                                                                         www.childrensrights.org


                                                                                                         330 Seventh Avenue
                                                                                                         New York, NY 10001
Marcia Robinson Lowry                                                                                    p. 212.683.2210
Executive Director                                                                                       f. 212.683.4015
“Hitting the MARC,” continued from page 1       The Foster Care MARC was calculated by            congressional briefing on October 3.
and retention, potentially increasing the       analyzing consumer expenditure data re-           National coverage of the story included a
likelihood that children will be placed in      flecting the costs of caring for a child, iden-   prominent feature on “Hitting the MARC”
institutions or shuttled from one foster        tifying and accounting for costs particular       in USA Today and an Associated Press story
placement to another—and decreasing             to children in foster care, and applying a        that was picked up by news media across
their chances of finding permanent homes.       geographic cost-of-living adjustment. The         the country. In all, more than 150 print,
                                                new proposed minimums include sufficient          broadcast, and electronic news outlets
Although state and local child welfare          funds to meet a child’s basic physical needs      have covered the story to date.
systems are required by federal law to reim-
burse foster parents for the cost of provid-
ing for the basic needs of children in foster
care, there is no standard federal minimum
                                                 “at a time when foster
reimbursement rate. States and localities           parent recruitment is in
are free to set their own rates on what-
ever basis they choose, and many states         steady decline in many places,
report using no particular methodology in
establishing their standards. The resulting        the inadequacy of current
disparities are stark. Current monthly rates
range from $226 in Nebraska to $869 in
                                                  rates is a crisis,” Said Julie
the District of Columbia—a greater spread
than can be accounted for by differences in
                                                    Farber, director oF policy.
the cost of living.
                                                and cover the cost of “normalizing” child-        Further advocacy efforts by Children’s
“The bottom line is that when these rates       hood activities such as after-school sports       Rights, the NFPA, and other national
don’t reflect the real expenses that foster     and arts programs—particularly important          and local organizations are ongoing, and
parents face, it’s the children who suffer,”    for children who have been traumatized or         one group representing foster parents in
said Karen Jorgenson, executive director of     isolated by abuse, neglect, and the experi-       California has filed a lawsuit against the
the NFPA. “‘Hitting the MARC’ provides          ence of being placed in foster care.              state seeking increased foster care rates.
desperately needed guidelines for rates
that would ensure that the basic needs of       The authors of the report began a nation-         The full report can be found at the Chil-
children in foster care are met no matter       wide advocacy campaign for the adoption           dren’s Rights website: www.childrensrights.
where they happen to live.”                     of the proposed standard rates with a             org/hittingthemarc.



Children’s Rights Teams with American Bar
Association to Ensure Quality Representation
for Children in Family Court
The right to legal counsel is guaranteed        committee that focuses on the underrep-           in state custody has an effective ally on his
to every American by the Sixth Amend-           resentation of children in the legal system,      or her side in family court.”
ment to the Constitution. But in many           in 2006. In early 2007, a national survey
states across the country, children in abuse    revealed the alarming lack of effective legal     The first phase of the Right to Repre-
and neglect cases do not receive any legal      representation for children in family court,      sentation project is nearing completion.
counsel at all—and even when they do, it is     including many states in which children           Attorneys from the ABA’s Section of
often not the zealous representation they       simply do not have the right to counsel.          Litigation, Children’s Rights, private law
need to protect their interests.                Children’s Rights responded by taking a           firms, and public institutions across the
                                                leading role in the Right to Representation       country conducted research over the
The Right to Representation project, a          project.                                          summer to determine, state by state, the
bold initiative of the American Bar As-                                                           best recourse—whether lobbying the state
sociation in which Children’s Rights has        “As the most vulnerable citizens in the legal     legislature or filing a class action lawsuit in
played a key role, aims to change that—and      system, abused and neglected children ur-         state or federal court. Once the national
ensure that every abused and neglected          gently need lawyers to guide them and pro-        research is completed, the CRLC and
child in the U.S. is represented by a compe-    tect their interests,” said Lawrence J. Fox,      Children’s Rights will evaluate how best
tent attorney in the courtroom.                 former chairman of the ABA Litigation             to proceed in securing the legal rights of
                                                Section and a member of the Children’s            abused and neglected children throughout
Children’s Rights joined the Children’s         Rights Board of Directors. “This project is       the country.
Rights Litigation Committee, an ABA             one step toward ensuring that every child


                                                         3     www.childrensrights.org
Second Annual Benefit Raises $800,000+
for Children’s Rights
                                   The Second Annual Children’s Rights Benefit began with the
 On the Web:                       premiere of a new film about the organization and ended with a
  www.childrensrights.org/events
                                   spirited live auction that raised nearly $150,000 to support its
                                   work. A crowd of more than 300 packed Gotham Hall for the
                                   event, emceed by Deborah Roberts of ABC News, listening
                                   intently to the stories behind Children’s Rights’ campaigns to
                                   reform America’s broken child welfare systems.




                                                                       “Children’s Rights fought for me,” said
                                                                       Manny, 17, a named plaintiff in Children’s
                                                                       Rights’ landmark class action in New
                                                                       Jersey. “It was the first time I felt like I
                                                                       could make a difference.” (See the back
                                                                       cover of this newsletter to read more
                                                                       about Manny.)


                                                                       Ben Williams, a foster parent, recounted
                                                                       his uphill battle to adopt two brothers out
                                                                       of the child welfare system in Michigan,
                                                                       where Children’s Rights has just begun a
                                                                       major reform campaign. “These children
                                                                       have no one else to speak up for them, to
                                                                       stand up for them, and to fight for them,”
                                                                       he said.




                                         4   www.childrensrights.org
Margaret C. Ayers (right), president and CEO
    of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation,
  accepted the Children’s Rights Champion
Award, for her longtime support of Children’s
              Rights’ work in New York City.


Hugh Hildesley (below), Sotheby’s executive
  vice president, solicited pledges of support
   for Children’s Rights reform campaigns in
 Michigan, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and an
unnamed state currently under investigation.




                                                 Alan Myers and Alice Rosenwald, co-chairs of the Children’s
                                                 Rights Board of Directors, ended the evening with their thanks
                                                 for guests’ enthusiastic participation. Rosenwald matched gifts
                                                 from new donors and donors who exceeded their prior-year gifts
                                                 during the auction, adding $53,000 to the total raised.

                                                 See more photos from the Second Annual Children’s Rights
                                                 Benefit: www.childrensrights.org/events




                                  5    www.childrensrights.org
New Jersey On Track to Com-                      50 percent since the settlement of the case   The events were the first in a new and
plete First Phase of Reforms                     in 2001, and 90 percent of the children       ongoing series of breakfast briefings
                                                 whose cases were reviewed for the report      presented by Children’s Rights to give
Although significant challenges remain,          were living with foster families. DCS has     supporters and others interested in the
New Jersey’s Department of Children and          also made progress in reducing caseloads      organization’s work a look inside its legal
Families (DCF) has mostly completed the          among its child welfare workers and in        and policy efforts—and the results they
first phase of the massive reform effort re-     keeping brothers and sisters together in      bring about. The programs are intimate
quired under the settlement of Children’s        foster care.                                  and the discussions are lively, giving at-
Rights’ landmark class action against the                                                      tendees an opportunity to participate
state, according to a new report by the          Still, the state must address serious         directly in the conversation and get their
court-appointed independent monitor in           problems to meet the requirements of          questions answered.
the case.                                        the court-enforceable settlement agree-
                                                 ment by June 2008, the target date for full   Additional briefings are being scheduled
The report cites impressive progress in key      compliance, the report says. DCS is still     for the months ahead. For more informa-
areas—including significant increases in         moving children too frequently between        tion, contact Jethro Miller, director of
adoptions and in the number of licensed          foster care placements, failing to provide    development, at 212.683.2210 or jmiller@
foster and adoptive parents, decreased           important services for older children,        childrensrights.org, or visit the Children’s
caseloads and better training for DCF            and making inadequate progress toward         Rights website at www.childrensrights.
caseworkers, and major improvements to           placing children in permanent homes,          org/briefings.
the department’s infrastructure. But it also     according to the report.
notes many challenges to further reform,                                                       Supporting Abused and
and says the state is still failing to provide   “This settlement has produced significant     Neglected Children Through
timely basic services to the children in         improvements for Tennessee children,          Your AmEx Card—and IRA
its custody.                                     and DCS has a strong leadership team
                                                 in place,” said Ira Lustbader, associate      This holiday season, American Express is
“New Jersey is now where it is supposed          director of Children’s Rights. “But the       offering cardholders twice the incentive to
to be under Phase I of this massive reform       remaining problems are very serious, and      give a gift to a worthy cause. Donations to
effort,” said Susan Lambiase, associate          we will remain in place as a watchdog to      Children’s Rights and other charities made
director of Children’s Rights. “Unfortu-         hold the agency accountable and ensure        online through the American Express
nately, too many children have yet to feel       that DCS makes the sustained commit-          GivingExpress program will earn double
those improvements in their daily lives, so      ment that will be necessary to solve them.”   Membership Rewards points through the
it is critical that DCF remain focused on                                                      end of 2007. For more information, visit
the long-term goals of the settlement—and        Children’s Rights Breakfast                   www.americanexpress.com/give.
step up its efforts to implement Phase II        Briefings Offer Detailed Views
of the reforms.”                                 of Legal and Policy Work                      And once again this year, for a limited
                                                                                               time, seniors can make a donation to
New Report Shows Results of                      On the morning of September 6, hosted         Children’s Rights directly from an IRA
Reform in Tennessee                              by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom       and receive a great tax advantage at the
                                                 in Manhattan, Children’s Rights Executive     same time. Individuals 70 Q or older can
Six years after the settlement of Children’s     Director Marcia Robinson Lowry and            donate up to $100,000 this year directly
Rights’ class action against Tennessee’s         Director of Policy Julie Farber presented     from an IRA without first being taxed on
Department of Children’s Services (DCS),         “At the Crossroads,” the organization’s       the distributions.
the state has made significant progress          major report examining the progress of
toward implementing major reforms,               the New York City child welfare system        For more information about making a
according to a new monitoring report             over the past decade. On November 8, at       gift to Children’s Rights from your IRA,
released in September.                           the offices of Weil, Gotshal & Manges,        please contact Jethro Miller, director of
                                                 Associate Director Ira Lustbader present-     development, at 212.683.2210 or jmiller@
The agency has reduced the number                ed a detailed account of the reforms now      childrensrights.org.
of children placed in group homes and            taking place in Tennessee as a result
orphanage-style institutions by more than        of Children’s Rights’ campaign there.




                                                         6     www.childrensrights.org
                                                             Kim France
                                                with Lucky special projects director Allyson        France is a founding editor of Lucky, and
                                                Waterman. France featured Children’s                has been with the Condé Nast publication
                                                Rights in Lucky’s “Shop While You Con-              since December 2000. Over the past
                                                tribute” feature shortly thereafter, offering       seven years, she has led the magazine to
                                                readers a chance to support the group’s             a host of industry awards, including
                                                advocacy campaigns through a portion of             Adweek’s “Start-up of the Year” in 2002
                                                the proceeds from their purchases, and              and Advertising Age’s “Magazine of the
                                                led off that issue with an editor’s letter          Year” in 2003. In 2004, The New York Post
                                                highlighting Children’s Rights’ work.               named France one of New York City’s
                                                                                                    “Most Powerful Women,” and Crain’s
                                                Since then, the magazine has sponsored a            New York Business featured her as one of
                                                cocktail party designed to help Children’s          its “40 under 40,” which singles out rising
                                                Rights cultivate new donors and purchased           stars in the New York City business com-
                                                tables at the annual Children’s Rights              munity. Most recently, France and the team
                                                benefit gala in 2006 and 2007. Last summer,         at Lucky received the award for Journalism
                                                France found another opportunity to sup-            Excellence from the Fashion Footwear
                                                port Children’s Rights when Lucky teamed            Association of New York. An alumna of
                                                with Flirt! cosmetics to launch a new signa-        Oberlin College, France contributed to
                                                ture line of products for television personal-      more than a dozen publications before
                                                ity Vanessa Minnillo. A portion of sales from       launching Lucky, serving also as editor-
                                                the kickoff event, held at New York’s Big           at-large for Spin magazine and as deputy
                                                Drop boutique, benefited Children’s Rights,         editor for New York magazine.
                                                and guests were sent home with gift bags
It may seem an unlikely partnership at first,   that included detailed information about            “Children’s Rights is extremely fortunate
a glossy shopping and style magazine and        Children’s Rights’ work on behalf of abused         to have the support of Kim France and
a child welfare advocacy group. But since       and neglected children.                             Lucky, who have brought the plight of
2004, Lucky magazine editor-in-chief Kim                                                            abused and neglected children to the
France has been helping Children’s Rights       “I am so consistently amazed by the spirit          attention of an audience far broader
spread the word about its child welfare         and tenacity of Marcia Lowry and the                than we could ever hope to reach on
reform campaigns—and supporting the             entire Children’s Rights organization,”             our own,” says Children’s Rights founder
organization through generous corporate         says France. “I became involved after               and Executive Director Marcia Robinson
and personal gifts.                             reading about Faheem Williams and other             Lowry. “They never cease to come up
                                                well-publicized New Jersey cases of foster          with new and innovative ways to promote
After learning about the organization           child abuse and neglect. Children’s Rights          our advocacy campaigns, and they have
from her sister-in-law, staff attorney Shirim   was already working in New Jersey, of               matched their creativity with extraordi-
Nothenberg, France made her first dona-         course, and it wasn’t long before Marcia            nary generosity.”
tion to Children’s Rights in the winter of      and her team were able to ensure that real
2003. Two years later, seeking additional       and meaningful reforms happened there.
ways to support abused and neglected            Children’s Rights are heroes. They’re
children, she approached the organization       saving children’s lives.”


Board Co-Chair Alice                             the Week” column, which highlighted her              “We are deeply grateful to Alice not only
Rosenwald Matches New and                        recent gift of $2.5 million to establish a re-       for her personal generosity, but also for her
Increased Gifts to Annual                        serve fund for Children’s Rights and support         leadership in building the sustainability
Fund—and Makes Headlines in                      the development of a new strategic plan.             of Children’s Rights and broadening our
Wall Street Journal                                                                                   outreach,” said Executive Director Marcia
                                                 This winter, she is offering a dollar-for-dollar     Robinson Lowry. “She is a true asset to this
In September, Children’s Rights Board of         challenge to match the first $100,000 from           organization in a great many ways.”
Directors Co-Chair Alice Rosenwald was           new donors and donors who exceed their
                 all
featured in The W Street Journal’s “Gift of      gifts from last year.




                                                         7    www.childrensrights.org
                                                                                             Manny
Manny was just three years old when he          Manny and his brother were named                 have been reduced. In the first half of this
and his brother were first taken away from      plaintiffs in the class action that Children’s   year, the state more than tripled its num-
their home and placed in foster care after      Rights brought against the state of New          ber of licensed foster and adoptive families
multiple confirmed reports of abuse                                                                        as compared to fiscal year 2006.
and neglect. In the years that fol-
lowed, they would be bounced around                                                                      Manny and his brother were finally
to more than 10 different homes and                                                                      moved into a loving and caring
subjected to one ordeal after another.                                                                   home, where Manny remains to
                                                                                                         this day. Manny’s brother lived in
At times, the two brothers were sepa-                                                                    the same home until he reached
rated from one another. Manny was                                                                        adulthood and remains close to
placed in the wrong grade at school.                                                                     the family.
After being moved into one home in
Florida where authorities later dis-                                                                      Manny is now in his junior year
covered more than 20 other children                                                                       of high school in New Jersey. He
living under intolerable conditions,                                                                      plays lacrosse and basketball on
Manny was sent to another home in                                                                         his school’s varsity teams and
New Jersey where he was reunited with his       Jersey in 1999. Since the landmark settle-       also enjoys football. He is already looking
brother—in a home where their foster par-       ment of the case in 2003, great progress         forward to attending college, possibly in
ents kept them locked in the basement, in       has been made. A cabinet-level children’s        Boston, and plans to study either histo-
the dark, feeding them bowls of table scraps.   agency has been created, and a child             ry—his favorite subject in high school—or
The foster parents spoke mostly Spanish.        advocate has been appointed as its com-          sports management. He is thriving in his
Although Manny is of Latino descent, he         missioner. Adoptions are up and caseloads        permanent home.
speaks only English.                            among the state’s child welfare workers




                                                                                                        new briefing series, and more.
                                                                                                        in New Jersey and Tennessee, a
                                                                                                        News in Brief: Major progress

                                                                                                       Lucky magazine editor-in-chief
                                                               www.childrensrights.org                 Donor Profile: Kim France,

                                                                            212.683.2210             big money for reform campaigns
                                                                    New York, NY 10001               Second annual benefit gala raises
                                                                   330 Seventh Avenue
                                                                                                           national headlines
   New York, NY                                                                                            reimbursement rates makes
  permit No. 8048                                                                                          Major report on foster care
       PA I D
   U.S. poStage                                                                                             IN THIS ISSUE:
 NoN-profit org.

				
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