To ensure the safety of vulnerable children, state leadership is essential to mobilize the resources and efforts of critical public and private stakeholders. Governors can communicate a vision of shared responsibility for child safety and well-being that begins with the state child welfare agency but ultimately engages many family- and child-serving agencies. With an eye toward both child well-being and systems efficiency, governors have the opportunity to strategically work with their agencies on safely reducing the number of families affected by the foster care system.  Governors can increase the safety and well-being of children by increasing efforts to address and prevent the child safety issues that many families face. For those children who do come into foster care, child-serving agencies can provide the necessary collaborative leadership to move these children to permanency as quickly as possible.

Older youth who age out of foster care are more likely than non-foster care youth to experience compounding socioeconomic hurdles. Governors can make a difference for older youth through measures to ensure these youth experience strong transitional connections to system supports in education, job training, housing, health, mental health, family planning and financial literacy.

Child Safety

The Three Branch Institute is a multi-year partnership between the NGA Center and the National Conference of State Legislatures, with support from Casey Family Programs. The Institute is designed to bring the three branches of government together to develop an action plan to address child welfare issues.  This is accomplished with national convenings of all participating governors’ teams, as well as regular onsite meetings among the three branches of state government. The purpose of the Three Branch Institute is to help participating states and territories to develop and integrated and multi-disciplinary approach for improving the safety of children who are known to the child welfare system, or at risk of child welfare involvement, by coordinating with the governor’s office and aligning the work of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. To learn more about The Three Branch Institute and the NGA Center’s work with governors in the child safety arena, please see below.


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Supporting Foster Youth Transitioning to Adulthood

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The Fostering Connections Act: Building Supportive Pathways for Older Youth

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Foster Care Transitioning Focus of Year-Long NGA Policy Academy

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Three Branch Institute

2017: Meeting Summary: Three Branch Institute on Improving Child Safety and Preventing Child Fatalities

2016: Improve Child Safety and Prevent Child Fatalities

Three Branch Institute to Improve Child Safety and Prevent Child Fatalities Cross-State Convening policy academy

2014: Child Social and Emotional Well-Being

Three Branch Institute Child Social and Emotional Well-Being policy academy

2013: Child Social and Emotional Well-Being

Three Branch Institute on Child Social and Emotional Well-Being Cross-State Convening policy academy

2012: Safe Reduction of Children and Adolescents in Care

Three Branch Institute on Safe Reduction of Children and Adolescents in Care: Learning Lab

2011: Safe Reduction of Children and Adolescents in Care

Three Branch Institute on Safe Reduction of Children and Adolescents in Care: Meeting Summary

2009: Achieving and Sustaining a Safe Reduction in Foster Care

2008: Reducing Number of Children in Foster Care

Webcast Series: Safely Reducing the Number of Children in Foster Care

Three Branch Institute on Safely Reducing the Number of Children in Foster Care Cross-State Convening policy academy

2007:  Improving Outcomes for Children and Youth in the Child Welfare system

Three Branch Institute Webcast Series on Improving Outcomes for Children and Youth in the Child Welfare System

A Three-Branch Approach to Child Welfare Reform in The Chronicle for Social Change

Safe Reduction of Children and Adolescents in Foster Care

State Efforts to Safely Reduce the Number of Children in Foster Care

Nine Things Governors Can Do to Build a Strong Child Welfare System

The Transition to Adulthood: How States Can Support Older Youth in Foster Care

State Policies to Help Youth Transition Out of Foster Care

Evidence-based Strategies to Advance a Safety Culture in Child Welfare

Within our Reach: A National Strategy to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

Webinar: Child Welfare Financing Strategies

Leveraging Advances in Aviation and Patient Safety, and Public-Private Partnerships to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

Coordinating Foster Care Across the 3 Branches of Government

NCSL: Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

NCSL blog post: States Called on to Review Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities in National Report, 2016

Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, 2012-2016

National Center for the Review & Prevention of Child Deaths, U.S. CDR Programs, Individual State CDR Programs

U.S. GAO Report: Child Maltreatment: Strengthening National Data on Child Fatalities Could Aid in Prevention

NCPCA: Child Fatality Review Teams