Policy & Systems Change

Values-Based Advocacy

As the oldest and largest child and family organizations in the country, we have been drivers of state and national legislation impacting the lives of children and families for more than a century. Today, with the strong support of Children’s Home Society of America, our member agencies are working closely with federal policy makers in Congress and the Administration to build out a systemic approach to child and family well-being.

We make regular visits to the Hill, involve federal leaders in the Wicked Problems Institute and partner with them to share information through webinars and conferences, all to ensure that the experiences, perspectives and needs of the children, families and community leaders we interact with every day are what drives national policy.

Policy Approach

CHSA’s policy impact is achieved with a multi-pronged approach:

  1. Advance federal policy priorities
  2. Work closely with federal policy makers to design and implement better policies and effective solutions
  3. Share and replicate model state legislation, strategies and campaigns
  4. Build advocacy capacity with and within CHSA member organizations

Federal Policy Priorities

Tier One – Lead Issues

LEAD issues are aspirational for children and families and inspirational for change-makers. Lead issues merit the majority of CHSA policy bandwidth – board and staff. These issues tend to be long-term in nature, as practice and policy solutions evolve. CHSA may not be the only, nor the main, national organization engaged in these issues.

Support Renewed Funding of the Social Innovation Fund

  • Support greater use of pre-existing federal and other public matching dollars in SIF-funded programs to better infuse evidence into existing programs and to facilitate both sustainability and scale
  • Work with the Administration for Children and Families to create greater linkages between the evidence-based Family First Prevention Services Act and the Social Innovation Fund, with the latter serving as a source of funds for evidence-building
  • Support building evidence for Family First-adjacent programs that might be funded under an expanded version of Family First that covered a broader array of downstream, prevention-focused programs
  • Support linkages between HUD and the SIF to support evidence-based approaches to affordable housing
  • Support efforts to streamline and reduce federal regulatory burdens on SIF grantees and subgrantees

CAPTA Reauthorization and Appropriations

  • Support increased funding for CAPTA
    • Support increased funding for CAPTA, including for community-based prevention programs
  • Child abuse and neglect research
    • Support increased funding for child abuse and neglect research, including research on best practices and evidence-based policies and programs
    • Support grants for capacity-building and field-initiated research on evidence-based and evidence-informed programs
  • Support public health approaches to identifying and preventing child fatalities
  • Support evidence-based prevention and treatment programs for substance use disorders
  • Support changes to CAPTA that prioritize reunification first, kinship caregiving second, adoption third as pathways to permanency

Child & Family Well-being

  • Support policies that reform existing child welfare policies and practices that confuse poverty with neglect
    • Support policies that reduce child removals due to poverty and related factors
    • Support policies that reduce systemic racism and bias in child welfare policies/practices (e.g. Blind Removal Process, NY)
  • Promoting prevention and family strengthening policies
    • Support policies that address poverty/ economic insecurity and ensure that families’ basic needs (food, housing, clothing, child care; health, education; employment) are met
    • Support policies that reduce child removals due to poverty and related factors
    • Support policies that reduce systemic racism and bias in child welfare policies/practices (e.g. Blind Removal Process, NY)

Making Permanent the Child Tax Credit (and other relevant items) from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act

Tier Two – Support Issues

SUPPORT issues are issues that are important to CHSA and its member organizations but are well-covered by other allied organizations that are recognized leaders.  On such issues, CHSA will contribute to the coalition work led by these organizations. 

Family Preservation

  • Support improvements to FFPSA that will support its effective implementation
  • Support improvements to CAPTA
  • Support the Foster Youth Driving Act
  • Support improvements to the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program

Child Care

  • Support the Child Care is Essential Act (in partnership with CCAoA)

Head Start / Early Head Start

  • Support automatic eligibility for children in family preservation services


  • Support an emergency stabilization fund for the homeless


  • Support targeted solutions that ensure strong continuum of care (in partnership with NOSAC)

Liability Insurance

  • Support access to affordable liability insurance for human service/child serving nonprofits

Tier Three – Track Issues

TRACK issues are issues that are relevant to CHSA and members core mission services essential to children, youth, families and communities thriving but that present few realistic opportunities to affect a meaningful policy outcome at the present time.  These issues may become a higher priority when events warrant.  On such issues, CHSA activity will largely be limited to monitoring, issuing occasional statements, signing joint letters initiated by aligned organizations and other actions requiring minimal time or resources.

Issues that may fall into this category include:

  • Medicaid
  • Early childhood programs
  • Infant mental health
  • Mental Health
  • Education
  • Homeless issues
  • Affordable Housing
  • Home Visiting
  • Economic policies (e.g. earned Income tax credit; fair & minimum living wage)
    SNAP (food stamps)
  • Employment programs
  • Criminal justice
  • Delinquency

National Partnerships for Policy & Systems Change

CHSA participates in coalitions and campaigns, such as the National Child Abuse Coalition and the Child Trauma and ACEs Federal Policy Work Group. We are partners with Voice for Adoption and with EMPath to seek ways to change federal policy in support of practices that increase family financial stability.