Rafael López Envisions a Better National Foster Care System

Posted May 30, 2017, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

America’s foster care population has swelled to 428,000 children — its largest size since 2008, according to the KIDS COUNT Data Center. More children in foster care means that more families are crossing paths with the country’s child welfare system.

It’s a system that Rafael López — the managing director of Accenture’s health and public services practice — knows extremely well. Prior to working at Accenture, López served as the commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has primary responsibility for the nation’s foster care system.

In recognition of National Foster Care month, which occurs each May, Casey’s Lisa Hamilton talks with López about America’s child welfare system. Their conversation explores the system today, how it works and where it falls short. López also shares ideas — such as leveraging technology and embracing human centered design — aimed at transforming the system to better serve children and families in crisis.

A huge thank you to López’s for chatting with us!

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What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • Ways that America’s child welfare system is broken.
  • What we can do to modernize the system.
  • The role that the federal government plays in child welfare.
  • How we currently incentivize support for families.
  • Why the number of kids in care may be increasing.
  • What families involved in foster care want to see change.

Conversation Clips

In Rafael López’s own words…

“The tools of the 21st century technology are applied to everything — from ordering books on Amazon Prime and having them delivered to your home today, to the way in which one orders pizza…Why is it that we are not more urgently and more robustly taking those tools and applying them in ways that matter in child welfare?”

“We need to do far more, far quicker around the way in which we deeply invest in prevention — and I think that's the next era for American child welfare.”

“Over and over you hear from young people in the system and parents, ‘I don't know’ or ‘I didn't know what was happening to me.’… Transparency matters immensely.”

“Because the way in which the data is reported is not real time, especially upwards from the local governments to the federal government, we see trends too late.”

“There's a variety of ways we need to think about foster parenting in this country, and also use technology and innovation to better match kids with foster parents.”

Resources That Received a Shout-Out

About the Podcast

CaseyCast is a monthly podcast produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and hosted by its vice president of external affairs, Lisa Hamilton. Each episode features Hamilton talking with a new expert about how we can build a brighter future for kids, families and communities.

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