Q: When you write about creating a new version of child welfare called Child Welfare 2.0, with a strong focus on using data and prioritizing prevention, how do you see that becoming a reality? Would it be best to create it outside the government system?

You are asking a timely question, as there is much interest in the idea of a Child Welfare 2.0. To be clear, the idea presented in Anna, Age Eight envisions a very different type of child welfare system, one that focuses as much on preventing maltreatment as it does on intervening in families after maltreatment occurs. We also advocate for a data-driven and cross-sector system that collaborates with city and county leadership to create a local system of care and safety for families.

We want to do everything possible, going upstream to prevent the conditions that might lead to costly abuse and neglect. As for how this “prevention entity” is created, funded, housed and run, we are open to ideas. To have power, it will need to be part of government or have a very strong relationship to government agencies. To be flexible and tech-infused with state-of-the-art software and agile staff, it might need to be run more like the private sector. We can see a private-public partnership being the answer. The bottom line is that a new type of child welfare system is needed to replace a model that was designed in pre-internet 1960s. We are talking with leaders in all sectors, including innovators in technology, organizational development and our colleagues in child welfare systems across the nation, to develop a new model that can serve our children and families. Stay tuned for updates on Child Welfare 2.0.