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Youth Villages CEO takes part in White House roundtable

November 14, 2011

Youth Villages Chief Executive Officer Patrick W. Lawler joined other child advocates for a roundtable discussion with President Obama’s Domestic Policy Council staff Nov. 14 at the White House.

The meeting with Melody Barnes, director of Pres. Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, focused on the recently passed Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act. Other White House roundtable participants included Jonathan Greenblatt, new director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, Racquel Russell, special assistant to the president for mobility and opportunity, and John Carson, office of public engagement.

The law is one of the only big bipartisan initiatives passed by the Congress so far this year. It expands the Title IV-E waiver program to allow more states to use federal foster care funds to develop or provide innovative prevention or reunification services that help children avoid foster care entirely, reunite with family members more quickly or find new families through adoption.

Roundtable participants discussed the use of evidence- and research-based practices and stressed the importance of measuring outcomes to determine effective programs to be implemented on a large scale.

Across the country more than 425,000 children are growing up in state foster care systems. Youth Villages, one of the largest providers of services to children with emotional and behavioral problems in the country, offers an innovative intensive in-home program that has been used effectively by states to preserve families or to help foster children reunite with relatives.

Youth Villages provides the program through IV-E waivers in Florida.

“One of the children we helped in Florida was 14 years old and had been in foster care since he was a toddler,” Lawler said. “He lost his entire childhood to foster care. But we were able to use intensive in-home services to support him through a successful adoption placement. This act will mean that more foster children across the country will receive the help they need to grow up in families – not foster or group care.”

Joining Lawler at the meeting were Anita Light with American Public Human Services Association; Sheri Steisel, National Conference of State Legislatures; Bruce Lesley, First Focus; Suzanne Ayer, Child Welfare League of America; Michael Petit, Every Child Matters; and Rutledge Hutson, Center for Law and Social Policy.

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