We can do more to serve our most vulnerable children

Re “Audit finds unsafe conditions at group homes foster homes’’ by Michael Levenson (Page A1, Dec. 19): A federal audit revealing unsafe conditions for foster youth raises the question: Is this the best we can do for our most vulnerable children?

As an association that represents the profession and interests of social workers, we know that our state can do more. We commend the work of both Governor Baker and the Office of the Child Advocate to secure permanent placements for children. With kinship and foster families a scarce resource, we wonder if there are other areas that also deserve our attention.

Social workers who work with so-called high-risk youth are in agreement with the mission of the state Department of Children and Families to make every effort to keep these young people at home with their families. We believe that more focus should be placed on the prevention of out-of-home placements, including in-home services such as the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative. Evidence confirms that these behavioral supports for families can reduce incidents of abuse and keep families together, while teaching valuable life skills.

With more emphasis and funding placed on prevention, coupled with necessary income supports for vulnerable families, we can reduce the need for out-of-home placements and ensure that all children grow up with the care they need and deserve.

Rebekah Gewirtz

Executive director

Massachusetts chapter of the

National Association of Social Workers