Shame on U.S., a report by the Children’s Advocacy Institute of the University of San Diego School of Law, in collaboration with First Star, discusses how the federal government is failing to properly enact, monitor, interpret, and enforce federal child welfare laws — and in so doing is allowing states to fall below minimum floors with regard to appropriately detecting and protecting children from child abuse and neglect and complying with minimum federal child welfare requirements and outcomes.
Each branch of our federal government plays an integral role in the child welfare system, and when even one fails to perform its role in an appropriate manner, children are put at risk of harm. Because all three branches must be performing optimally to ensure a well-functioning child welfare system, this report discusses the performance of each branch in this arena. Specifically, the report:
- provides an overview of the scope and purpose of major child welfare laws as enacted by Congress, and to what extent current laws meet the needs of children;
- examines how the judicial branch has interpreted those laws;
- discusses to what extent the executive branch implements and enforces those laws;
- comments on the potential efficacy of each branch’s scope and reach;
- provides examples of shortcomings in all three branches with regard to their respective roles vis-à-vis the child welfare system;
- discusses issues where the purpose or intent of child welfare laws are being openly violated by some states;
- calls for more robust activity from all three branches — and particularly enforcement by the executive branch charged with enforcing Congressional intent and, when necessary, withholding federal funding or imposing penalties where states are clearly not meeting minimum standards; and
- makes several recommendations for all three branches of federal government, all of which are necessary in order to ensure a well-functioning child welfare system.