Are We Solving the Wrong Problem in Child Welfare? with Dr. Jerry Milner

Season 3Episode 11July 29, 2021

Reimagining the child welfare system of the future.

Are we solving the wrong problem in child welfare?  When you think of federal child welfare policy, maybe you expect a discussion of foster care and other post-abuse interventions. If so, this conversation with Jerry Milner, former head of the Children’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is going to blow your mind. Because after more than 40 years in child welfare, Milner’s leadership of the Children’s Bureau turned a very, very different direction. He explored questions like: What would happen if we turned over our investment and focused on primary prevention instead? Are too many children separated from their parents unnecessarily through foster care? And, more importantly, what role do our own values of equity and belief in family support play not only in the lives of kids but in the life of our public policy? Milner is reimagining the child welfare system of the future. Take a listen.

Topics in this episode:

  • Origin story (1:20)
  • Why primary prevention? (4:04)
  • Why it’s hard to change (10:38)
  • Systemic inequities (16:44)
  • Different forms of neglect (21:50)
  • The consumer voice (31:54)
  • Our new podcast website (39:28)


Jerry Milner, DSW, is director of the Family Integrity and Justice Works at Public Knowledge, and former head of the U.S. Children’s Bureau

Children’s Advocacy Centers

“$20M diverted from police training facility to mental health facility in Prince George’s,” by Brad Bell, April 19, 2021, ABC7 News

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

Family First Prevention Services Act

Transcript to come.