Carole Shauffer Honored by AACAP

YLC is thrilled to announce that the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) selected Youth Law Center’s Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives Carole Shauffer for the 2018 Catchers in the Rye Humanitarian Award — the Academy’s highest honor.

Carole was nominated for this incredible honor by internationally recognized child psychiatrist and infant mental health expert Dr. Charles Zeanah. Dr. Zeanah serves as the Mary Peters Sellars Polchow Chair of Psychiatry, Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, and Vice Chair for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Tulane University School of Medicine. Carole was honored both for her decades of extensive advocacy at YLC to end the use of harmful practices such as jailing of children in adult facilities and housing of infants in congregate care, and for her creative advocacy to work in partnership with those most impacted: youth, families, and agency staff, to develop a new approach to foster care that has the potential to completely transform systems to meet the developmental needs of children. According to Dr. Zeanah:

“These and many other accomplishments preceded what, in my estimation, is her most promising and potentially transformative work, that is, creating and launching the Quality Parenting Initiative for children in foster care. The deceptively simple guiding principle of QPI is that every child deserves quality parenting every day. The model involves recruiting and training foster parents who agree to commit fully to the children in their care by providing them with loving care as if they were their own, as well as serving as partners to biological parents. In exchange, child welfare professionals agree to accept foster parents as full members of the professional team involved with children in care. Essentially, QPI makes meaningful efforts to create and sustain partnerships in which child protection professionals, foster parents and biological parents work collaboratively in the best interest of the child. This new initiative provides a potential national model that could prove transformative in public welfare administration. QPI is now in 10 states and more than 70 jurisdictions: Florida (2008), California (2010), Nevada (2011), Texas, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (2014), Illinois and Ohio (2015), Louisiana (2016), and Minnesota (2017). Ms. Shauffer was personally involved in negotiating the details of QPI in each of these locales. The QPI approach holds great promise for American child welfare policy and practice. Without question, it is the most exciting innovation in child welfare that I have witnessed in my career.” (Complete remarks follow)

“We have so much more to do. While we have ended the worst abuses, we have forgotten that children in these systems need love just as much as our own children. This award is recognition of all the work we’ve done together and all we still have to do. Together, we can ensure instead of a series of traumas, children have actual childhoods.” Carole Shauffer, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives

Please join us in congratulating Carole in this important achievement and celebrating the impact we are making in our advocacy efforts for children and youth in systems across the country!

Dr. Charles Zeanah (left) & YLC’s Carole Shauffer at the 2018 AACAP Award Ceremony

Complete Introduction to the AACAP by Dr. Charles Zeanah

Carole Shauffer, winner of AACAP’s 2018 Catcher in the Rye Humanitarian Award, has a big heart a keen mind and great vision — she is a force to be reckoned with. Flexible and creative in devising strategies to improve the lives of children, she is a strong advocate for them, but she is able to work cooperatively with others to achieve desired objectives. Most importantly, she puts the needs of children first and is unrelenting in her efforts to improve their lives.

Ms. Shauffer has worked for more than 35 years at the Youth Law Center in San Francisco –beginning as a staff attorney and eventually becoming Executive Director, and currently serving as Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives.

Initially, her work at the Youth Law Center focused upon correcting abuses of children in juvenile justice systems. Through litigation, consultation and the provision of technical assistance, she and her colleagues were responsible for ending the dangerous practice of jailing juveniles with adults in many states. Ms. Shauffer has written articles on special education in juvenile institutions, coordinating services for children, the rights of LGBT youth, and the “reasonable efforts” requirement promoting family preservation in federal law.

For the past 25 years, Ms. Shauffer’s focus has been primarily on the problems and needs of children in foster care systems nationwide. Her efforts, in concert with other advocates, have

been directly responsible for sweeping reorganization and improvements in the child welfare systems in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties, where the majority of the state’s foster children reside. She also gained a national reputation as a leader and innovator in child welfare reform, working directly with heads of social service departments, legislators and others to improve conditions and services for foster children.

Ms. Shauffer also has worked tirelessly to convince public child welfare agencies in many other states to develop alternatives to group care for young children. She has done this by making them an offer they cannot refuse. She tells them that there is abundant scientific evidence indicating that young children thrive best in families and that she can either sue them or work with them to develop constructive alternatives. To date, every state has taken her up on her offer to work with them collaboratively on alternatives.

She also convened a group of experts, supported and hosted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, on the topic of group care for older children and adolescents. These meetings included researchers and scholars knowledgeable about the topic who reviewed what is known and discussed how this knowledge might inform policies. As a result of her efforts, the Board of Directors of the American Association of Orthopsychiatry endorsed a peer reviewed Consensus Statement that recommended use of residential and group care for purposes of treatment rather than warehousing children and adolescents.

These and many other accomplishments preceded what, in my estimation, is her most promising and potentially transformative work, that is, creating and launching the Quality Parenting Initiative for children in foster care. The deceptively simple guiding principle of QPI is that every child deserves quality parenting every day. The model involves recruiting and training foster parents who agree to commit fully to the children in their care by providing them with loving care as if they were their own, as well as serving as partners to biological parents. In exchange, child welfare professionals agree to accept foster parents as full members of the professional team involved with children in care. Essentially, QPI makes meaningful efforts to create and sustain partnerships in which child protection professionals, foster parents and biological parents work collaboratively in the best interest of the child. This new initiative provides a potential national model that could prove transformative in public welfare administration. QPI is now in 10 states and more than 70 jurisdictions: Florida (2008), California (2010), Nevada (2011), Texas, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin (2014), Illinois and Ohio (2015), Louisiana (2016), and Minnesota (2017). Ms. Shauffer was personally involved in negotiating the details of QPI in each of these locales. The QPI approach holds great promise for American child welfare policy and practice. Without question, it is the most exciting innovation in child welfare that I have witnessed in my career.

Ms. Shauffer is a strong and effective leader who has been able to accomplish all of the above because of her vision, energy, intellect and engaging manner. This has enabled her to establish the relationships needed to enhance the capacity of public child welfare agencies and Courts to improve outcomes for children and their families. She continues to make many important contributions to the lives of young children. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the Catcher in the Rye Humanitarian Award.