"Preventing Child Abuse in an Age of Budget Deficits," a Brookings event featuring moderator Ron Haskins, a member of CRC's former Advisory Board. Held at The Brookings Institution, July 20, 2010.
"A great debate, but for reasons wholly different than I had expected. This quickly turned into a debate not about funding during deficits, but more widely, and consequentially, about the entire future of social services funding within a public policy framework increasingly contingent on, and even devotional to, the evidence-based study.
Dr. David Olds has made strides in the field of evidence-based studies, but even now drawing conclusions can take decades. He is certainly not alone in contending that cost-benefit ratios should determine and steer social services funding, but Rev. Darrell L. Armstrong, one-time director of the N.J. Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships, eyed that reality wearily. "People need to keep pushing even if we do not have evidence-based findings but we know it in our gut that's it's working," he said. "But people writing checks won't continue to write checks without the studies."
Rev. Armstrong made a great case for a measured approach, but Dr. Olds and company implied that cost-benefit analyses will win the day. Social service funding, according to the panelists, seems to be, more and more, about one science heeding to another: politics moving only at the behest of evidence-based pilot studies. That's not to say that social services have to decline. But it is to note that to avoid such a fate they will have to have, like this panel, one Dr. Olds for every Rev. Armstrong."
--B. Israel, Washington, D.C.
"What a great panel. What impressed me most was the idea of the Triple P (Positive Parenting Program), which seems to have the best plan and call to action. To me it makes sense, with its tiered system which allocates more resources to more needy families. Yet both Rev. Armstrong, and Ms. Coogan both raised valid points. I feel that they really had hands-on experience with families and the most valid information to share with us. New Jersey's plan to keep families out of the system is an overall better goal. But one can't get around the fact the Triple P is more impressive on paper, and that seems to be where the funding battles are won or lost."
--M. Stewart, Toledo, OH
"I found this event to be useful and rather informative. The different panel speakers touched on issues which were of great importance to consider when discussing the current financial crisis. Most time, if not always, children's safety is not discussed by professionals who discuss financial stress on families. It was very important for the Brooking Institute to have held this function to inform the public about the impact financial crisis have on children when parents are faced with the crisis of not being able to provide for their families. It was interesting to find out that there is so much going on in the New Jersey constituency to help families with problems best take care of their children in hope of limiting child abuse. Another important point which the panel speakers emphasized was the need to keep children with their parents rather than have them in foster care. "
--J. Jenkins, Atlanta, GA
From Brookings' events page: "On July 20, The Future of Children, a joint project between Princeton University and the Brookings Institution, held an event and online webcast to discuss ways that prevention programs can save money across a range of social programs. The event, planned in cooperation with Voices for America’s Children, featured experts who focused on both the practices and research that have been shown to be effective. Speakers also addressed the prospects that prevention services can be expanded during these difficult times."