Sad Stories

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KARA (Kids At Risk Action) tracks current news about at risk children bringing transparency and  attention to our youngest and most vulnerable  citizens.

The COVID pandemic has almost stopped major media reporting of domestic violence and child abuse issues.

KARA’s reporting is only sampling of what should be reported.

Most child trauma & abuse is never known by anyone outside the family.

American states are struggling to find answers for ending adverse childhood experiences (ACES)

and saving at risk children by reversing the explosive growth of child abuse and neglect.

37% of children overall and 44% of Black children are reported to child protection services in America by the time they turn 18.

(American Journal of Public Health 1.17)

PRE COVID, 6 to 12 million children a year were reported to child protection services and in many states,

 1/3 of foster children are required to take psychotropic medicines and 80% of youth aging out of foster care were leading dysfunctional lives.



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The following stories and information are gathered from Child Welfare Information Gateway over the last few days in America;


CA: Advocates Seek Funding for CA Parent and Youth Helpline (Includes audio)
Public News Service – May 13, 2021
The pandemic has brought suffering to millions of California families, so mental-health advocates are pressing the state for $3 million a year for three years to fund the California Parent and Youth Helpline. The program has racked up 14,000 contacts since its debut last spring, in a partnership between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the nonprofit Parents Anonymous.



CA: Advocates Seek Funding for CA Parent and Youth Helpline (Includes audio)
Public News Service – May 13, 2021
The pandemic has brought suffering to millions of California families, so mental-health advocates are pressing the state for $3 million a year for three years to fund the California Parent and Youth Helpline. The program has racked up 14,000 contacts since its debut last spring, in a partnership between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the nonprofit Parents Anonymous.


CA: California governor proposes kindergarten for 4-year-olds (Includes audio) (Includes video)
Associated Press – May 13, 2021
All 4-year-olds in California could go to kindergarten for free under a new proposal from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, part of a broad new education spending package made possible by the state’s surprise budget surplus. That surplus means California will have $93.7 billion to spend on public education this year, money calculated by a voter-approved formula. That’s $36 billion more than the state had to spend last year, and it is $17.7 billion more than the governor’s initial estimate in January.


IA: Iowa removes statute of limitations for child sex abuse, becoming 14th state to do so (Includes video)
WQAD – May 12, 2021
Iowa is now the 14th state to eliminate the statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse against a child. Senate File 562 amends the Iowa Code to criminalize sexual exploitation by an adult providing training or instruction, according to an April 30 fiscal note. The law also provides a clearer definition of when an adult providing training or instruction commits sexual exploitation.
Also: SF 562: An Act Relating to Sexual Exploitation by an Adult Providing Training or Instruction and Statute of Limitations Time Periods for Certain Criminal Offenses Committed on or with Minors, and Providing Penalties and Including Effective Date provisions:


IA: Department of Human Services Announces $5 Million Investment in Pandemic Relief for Iowa Foster Youth and Alumni (Press release)
Iowa Department of Human Services – May 11, 2021
The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) announced today that they are allocating over $5 million in new funding to benefit current and former foster care youth adversely affected by COVID-19. Pandemic Relief for Iowa Foster Youth and Alumni is made possible as part of the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA). CAA awarded Iowa DHS $4.7 million to create a pandemic response benefitting youth in and aging out of foster care and entering adulthood.


MI: Michigan House approves DHHS budget (Includes video)
WZZM – May 12, 2021
The Michigan House of Representatives on Wednesday passed House Bill 4399, which is Rep. Mary Whiteford’s Health and Human Services Subcommittee Budget proposal. The bill centers around child welfare, seniors, behavioral health and human trafficking. Under this bill, funding for private foster care will increase. Early intervention and access to behavioral health services will also be prioritized, with an expansion for the Michigan Crisis and Access Line and grants for clinics.
Also: House Bill 4399:


MO: Missouri Senate OKs oversight of unlicensed faith-based reform schools (May require subscription)
Missouri Independent – May 12, 2021
A bill that aims to provide increased oversight over unlicensed religious boarding schools in Missouri that have faced allegations of abuse and neglect moved one step closer to passage Tuesday. Despite a handful of senators expressing their opposition to the bill, the Senate passed House Bill 557 with an emergency clause by a vote of 23-9 Tuesday. Now, with only days left in the legislative session, it heads back to the House, which unanimously approved a similar version of the bill in late March.
Also: HB 557: Establishes provisions relating to the protection of children:


NC: Beyond ending shackling, a new bill opens up questions about children born to incarcerated moms
North Carolina Health News – May 13, 2021
Today, birthing women serving time or awaiting trial behind bars are often restrained using shackles while receiving medical care at hospitals and health centers. Once they give birth, new mothers behind bars typically have about 72 hours to spend with their newborns. House Bill 608 would end shackling of pregnant women behind bars. The bill passed in the House on Monday and heads to the Senate for final ratification before heading to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk for a signature. Although it’s still early in the lawmaking process, HB 608 has strong bipartisan support and is expected to become law. Child advocates and law enforcement alike are reflecting on future reforms for incarcerated women, including the child care model from North Carolina’s recent history.
Also: House Bill 608: Dignity for Women Who are Incarcerated:


NC: NC’s Minimum Marriage Age Rises to 16 in Bill OK’d by Senate (Includes video)
Associated Press – May 12, 2021
The minimum age to get married in North Carolina would increase from 14 to 16 under legislation unanimously approved by the state Senate on Wednesday. Backers of the measure say it reflects a compromise from the original content of the bill, which would have raised the minimum age to 18. Some senators were unhappy with that measure or a later version that would still have allowed 14-year-olds to marry – although no child could have married a partner more than four years older than him or her.


OH: Coalition Urges Ohio Senate to Invest in Child Wellbeing (Includes audio)
Public News Service – May 13, 2021
As the Ohio Senate continues hearings on the biennial state budget, there are calls for lawmakers to move the needle on investments in child wellbeing. While the House version of a $74 billion two-year budget would increase funding for K-12 education and invests in student wellness, the Ohio Children’s Budget Coalition contended it rejected proposals to address infant mortality, child lead poisoning and other issues. The coalition urged the Senate to consider several provisions to help children and families, including increasing funding for the state’s home-visiting program for new mothers and their babies, and extending postpartum coverage for Medicaid eligible women from 60 days to 12 months.


OK: Payne County receives grant for Infant Toddler Court program
Stillwater News Press – May 12, 2021
Resilient Payne County has received funding to create an Infant Toddler Court in Payne County to help improve the health, safety, well-being and development of infants, toddlers and families involved in the child welfare system. The local organization, which advocates for reducing the impact of trauma on children, received a capacity building grant as a part of a national effort to improve outcomes for families in the child welfare system and dramatically reduce the number of babies and toddlers removed from their families.


PA: Report Highlights PA School Discipline Disparities (Includes audio)
Public News Service – May 13, 2021
A report to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission recommends banning exclusionary discipline for nonviolent offenses in Pennsylvania public schools. The report recommended using positive behavior supports and restorative practices for nonviolent behavior rather than punishment.
Also: Disparate and Punitive Impact of Exclusionary Practices on Students of Color, Students with Disabilities and LGBTQ Students in Pennsylvania Public Schools: A Report of the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights:


TX: ‘We need some flexibility’: Youth-serving nonprofit CEO says more support needed in foster care capacity crisis (Includes video)
KSAT – May 12, 2021
A statewide nonprofit dedicated to helping children and youth-serving organizations believes a start to improving the foster care system is understanding the challenges that cause community-based care programs to close down. Katie Olse, CEO of the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, is weighing in on Family Tapestry’s recent announcement that it is terminating its contract with the state for community-based care. Family Tapestry is a division of the Children’s Shelter in charge of finding placement for children in Bexar County.


WA: Community Health Care accredited as Foster Care Center of Excellence (Press release)
Community Health Care – May 12, 2021
Community Health Care’s Foster Adoption Clinic has been designated as a Foster Care Center of Excellence by Coordinated Care, the managed care provider for the Apple Health Foster Care program. The clinic received this accreditation due to its exemplary processes and medical services that provide specialized care for children in the child welfare system. Centers of Excellence are recognized as multidisciplinary medical centers where youth in the child welfare system receive coordinated healthcare services.


WV: Report details abuse, neglect, and cruelty in WV behavioral homes (Includes video)
WOWK – May 12, 2021
The system that works with some of West Virginia’s most vulnerable residents is broken and needs to be fixed. A report detailing the problems was made public this week at the Legislative Oversight for Health and Human Resources Committee. In the 9-page report by the Office of Health Facility Licensure and Certification, details about abuse at group homes come to light.


US: Bill reintroduced in U.S. House to support grandparents raising grandchildren
WWLP – May 12, 2021
U.S. House of Representatives Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (MA-02) and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) reintroduced the Grandfamily Housing Act, a bill to create a new, nationwide pilot program to provide funding to help grandparents raising their grandchildren access safe, affordable and appropriate housing.
Also: Grandfamily Housing Act of 2021:


US: Bipartisan Walorski, Bacon bill makes Adoption Tax Credit permanent
Ripon Advance – May 12, 2021
U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Don Bacon (R-NE) on May 7 introduced bipartisan legislation that would make the current Adoption Tax Credit permanently refundable, removing income as a barrier to adoption for more low-income families. The Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act of 2021, H.R. 3031, which Reps. Bacon and Walorski cosponsored with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), would amend the Adoption Tax Credit, which helps families offset some of the costs of adoption, especially for children with special needs, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.
Also: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a refundable adoption tax credit:


US: US Advisers Endorse Pfizer COVID Shot for Kids 12 and Up (Includes video)
Associated Press – May 12, 2021
U.S. health advisers endorsed use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in kids as young as 12 on Wednesday – just as planned new guidelines say it’s OK for people of any age to get a coronavirus shot at the same time as other needed vaccinations. The shots will let kids safely attend camps this summer and help assure a more normal return to classrooms next school year, concluded advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also: Five Things to Know Before CDC Panel Votes on Pfizer’s Vaccine for Use in Adolescents:


US: Opinion: As a Black woman raised by White parents, I have some advice for potential adopters (May require subscription)
Washington Post – April 05, 2021
More than half of the Black adopted kindergarteners in the United States are raised by families of another race – usually, White. And while almost always well-meaning, these White adoptive parents must also know and understand the itinerant racism, fetishizing, adultification and stereotyping imposed on their Black children from an early age. As a Black adoptee raised by White parents – incredibly loving White parents – in rural, White New England, I feel a vivid sense of urgency to offer some words of advice for White adoptive parents of Black children, and particularly Black girls.




International: Athlete union research aims to improve child protection
Associated Press – May 11, 2021
A world-wide network of athletes’ unions published research Tuesday aimed at better protecting young people in sports following sexual abuse scandals in gymnastics and soccer. About 300 international athletes, including some Olympians, shared their experiences of abuse and intimidation they suffered and witnessed as minors for the Census of Athlete Rights Experiences report.
Also: Census of Athlete Rights Experiences Report 2021:


CA: Guardian Scholars Program helps former foster youth thrive despite adversity
Golden Gate Xpress – May 11, 2021
Since its beginning in 2005, the Guardian Scholars Program was designed to help former foster youth find their chosen family as they pursue higher education. Its mission is to provide ample resources and to work against the odds their students have in obtaining their degrees.
Also: Guardian Scholars Program at San Francisco State University:


CA: Newsom proposes $12 billion to help California homeless population (Includes video)
San Diego Union-Tribune – May 11, 2021
In what was lauded as the single biggest investment any state has ever made to address homelessness, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced a $12 billion proposal to create affordable housing, increase mental health services and fund other programs to get people off the street. If approved by legislators as part of the state budget, Newsom said his plan would provide housing for 65,000 people and stabilize housing for more than 300,000 people who have difficulty paying rent or are facing other housing challenges.


ME: Report: Maine’s child welfare system still struggling 3 years after deadly abuse cases (Includes video)
WGME – May 10, 2021
It’s been three years since two deadly cases of child abuse prompted widespread reform, but a report finds the state’s child welfare system is falling short in two crucial areas.
Also: Maine Child Welfare Services Ombudsmen Report:


MI: Legislation may impact Benzie County’s juvenile court budget (Includes video)
Benzie County Record Patriot – May 11, 2021
Benzie County’s juvenile court and others in Michigan are preparing for what it might mean when Raise the Age legislation takes effect in October. This is the second part in a two-part series looking at the many ways the upcoming Raise the Age legislation may impact Benzie and Manistee counties’ juvenile court system as well as the ripple effects to other areas of the community.
Also: Report: Cost of raising the age of juvenile justice in Michigan:
Also: Part 1: Manistee County may see ‘huge increase’ in juvenile court cases (May require subscription):


NC: COVID-19 Supports Still Available for Youth and Young Adults Transitioning from Foster Care (Press release)
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services – May 11, 2021
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging young adults (Ages 18-21) eligible for the state’s extended foster care program who left the program during the COVID-19 Pandemic due to their age to apply for re-entry to receive available services and support. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law Dec. 27, 2020, continues to provide emergency relief to young people in or transitioning from foster care who are struggling because of the pandemic.
Also: State Offers Extended Support For Young Adults Who Left Foster Care:


NY: As New York Legalizes Marijuana, Parent Advocates Push Child Welfare Agencies to Adapt
Imprint – May 11, 2021
For generations of New York parents, smoking a joint on the stoop or tucking some weed into a pocket has always come with the risk of not only a criminal charge, but the threat of being reported to child protective services. People of color and families living in poverty have long been the overwhelming majority of those tested for marijuana use, arrested and reported to child welfare agencies. But at the end of March, New York became the 16th state to legalize recreational cannabis for those ages 21 and older.


OK: Hill’s Successful Adulthood Act, Aiding Foster Children Aging Out of System, Becomes Law (Press release)
Oklahoma House of Representatives – May 11, 2021
Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed legislation to help children aging out of the Oklahoma foster care system become self-sufficient. House Bill 1709, also known as the Successful Adulthood Act, lowers the age that someone in foster care could access federal funding through the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP), operated by the U.S. Children’s Bureau, from the current age of 18 to age 16.


RI: Rhode Island Senate passes bill prohibiting child marriage
Newport Buzz – May 11, 2021
The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. John Burke (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) that would prohibit marriage among anyone below the age of 18. The bill (2021-S 0398aa) would amend current state law that allows the practice with the consent of a parent.
Also: Senate Bill S 0398aa:


TX: State to take over Bexar County foster care placement again as Family Tapestry ends contract (Includes video)
KSAT – May 11, 2021
With a local partner ending its contract early, the Department of Family and Protective Services will take over managing the placement of Bexar County foster kids again. A DFPS spokesman says the agency learned on Monday that Family Tapestry, the wing of The Children’s Shelter responsible for its community-based care initiative, was ending its state contract for managing the placement of foster kids out of Bexar County. The spokesman was unable to definitively say when the contract would end, but he said the state would be taking over that role until “if and when” it decides to put the contract out for bid again.


WA: Why I’m holding my applause for Washington’s new foster care law (Opinion)
Crosscut – May 11, 2021
Advocates are praising Washington state’s new law for its focus on prevention. The idea is that referring parents to drug treatment and mental health counseling will head off family crises before they get bad enough to threaten the welfare of a child. But the success of this plan hinges on building a drug-and-mental-health referral system that does not yet exist, and simultaneously coming up with money for housing aid. So forgive me if I hold my applause. Foster care has a long, sad history of pendulum swings – toward family preservation or away from it – and either way, kids get hurt.


WI: Ethan’s Law Headed To Governor Evers’ Desk
Seehafer News – May 12, 2021
Legislation that would no longer require children in protective care to be subject to placement with admitted child abusers is one step closer to becoming state law. Ethan’s Law-co-authored by First District State Senator Andre Jacque of De Pere and 25th Assembly District Representative Paul Tittl of Manitowoc, cleared the State Assembly yesterday in a unanimous voice vote and likewise in the Senate earlier this year with bipartisan support.


US: Durbin, Duckworth, Kelly Introduce Bills To Increase Youth Employment Opportunities (Press release)
Office of U.S. Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin – May 11, 2021
Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL-02) introduced two bills to expand and increase access to employment opportunities for underserved youth. The Helping to Encourage Real Opportunity (HERO) for Youth Act and the Creating Pathways for Youth Employment Act will increase federal resources for communities seeking to create or grow employment programs and provide tax incentives to businesses and employers to hire and retain youth from economically distressed areas.


US: Military parents would get 12 weeks of leave to care for new children under congressional proposal
Military Times – May 11, 2021
All military parents would get 12 weeks of family leave to care for a new child and would see increased flexibility in how they use that time off under a new legislative proposal introduced on Tuesday. The Servicemember Parental Leave Equity Act, backed by bipartisan group 31 House members, would cover both primary and secondary caregivers, significantly boosting the unpaid leave available to each under current military rules.


US: Why Do Mandated Reporters of Child Abuse Hesitate Reporting? (Requires free registration) (Commentary)
New Jersey Law Journal – May 11, 2021
In all states, many professionals are legally designated mandated reporters of suspected child maltreatment. In some states, adults in the general public are mandated reporters as well.


AK: Operating budget passes House, with forward funded AMHS
Cordova Times – May 10, 2021
House Bill 69 also calls for $4.2 billion in unrestricted general fund spending through a funding format boosted by one-time federal pandemic relief funds. Key points of HB 69 include: Pre-K programs would get $5 million and K-12 schools are funded ahead through House Bill 169, which passed earlier this year to prevent pink slips to teachers and provide certainty of adequate school funding to students, parents and teachers; and Full funding for the Tribal Child Welfare Compact..
Also: House Bill 69:


CA: Youth-Led Group Builds Tiny Home Village to Fight California’s Homelessness Crisis
Imprint – May 09, 2021
Homelessness among teens and young adults has been steadily on the rise for years across the nation. In California, 12,000 youth were homeless on a given night in 2019, according to the federal government. But until now, there were only 36 beds designated for homeless youth in Alameda County, home to the populous cities of Oakland and Berkeley, according to the East Oakland Community Project. The 26 tiny houses will nearly double the county’s existing capacity to serve this group.


HI: How Did Thousands of Hawai’i’s Students Vanish-And Can We Get Them Back?
Honolulu Magazine – May 10, 2021
When the pandemic first hit and schools closed last March, a state Department of Education survey indicated nearly 30% of families lacked devices for distance learning and 24% lacked reliable internet at home. Children who were in foster care or whose families were living in shelters, public housing or with other families due to economic hardships were impacted most.


OH: Montgomery County commissioners prepare to place Human Services Levy back on ballot
Dayton Daily News – May 11, 2021
The levy would raise about $73.3 million in revenue to help fund safety-net programs for abused and neglected children, children and adults with developmental disabilities and people with drug and alcohol dependencies.


OK: Oklahoma DHS child abuse hotline employee fired after leading police on pursuit, allegedly while on the job (Includes video)
KFOR – May 10, 2021
The suspect from a lengthy, slow-speed pursuit in Northwest Oklahoma City on Friday has been identified as an employee of a DHS Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline who was allegedly working at the time of the pursuit.


PA: PA children are dying from drug overdoses, drownings and, most prevalent, physical abuse (Includes video)
York Daily Record – May 10, 2021
Those details come from Antonio’s fatality report, a document that Pennsylvania requires after a child dies from abuse, neglect or both. Those reports are the only individual case files made available in Pennsylvania’s child welfare system. Otherwise, the system is closed from inspection. The court hearings are closed to the public, and the legal filings between county-level children’s agencies and the families are blocked from public view. It is not until a child dies or nearly dies that a report is made public, and even then, those reports are heavily redacted, with names, places, agencies and other information blacked out.


TX: New Report Shows Texas Foster Care System Still Falling Short (Includes audio)
Texas Standard – May 10, 2021
Foster care providers in Texas are facing heightened scrutiny after a new report indicates at least 23 children have died in foster care since 2019. That’s on top of the ongoing problem of children sleeping in state offices because of a lack of space in foster care facilities.
Also: “Serious, harmful consequences”: Texas continues placing foster children in harm’s way, court monitors find:
Also: Report: State of Texas Title IV-B Child and Family Services Plan 2021 Annual Progress & Services Report:


TX: State rep. voices concerns for House bill that would make homeless encampments in public illegal (Includes video)
KSAT – May 09, 2021
A state representative is voicing her concerns after the Texas House passed a bill that would make it illegal for those experiencing homelessness to camp in public areas. If caught, they could face a Class C misdemeanor charge that is punishable by a fine of up to $500, according to House Bill 1925. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, District 120 state representative, feels this bill will start a vicious cycle for those already in need. “Homelessness is caused by several reasons,” she said. “It could be you are down on your luck. It could be mental illness, it could be our veterans out there, it could be our kids that age out of foster care, it could be thrown away children. We have to look at this holistically and not trying to criminalize people.”


WA: Treehouse Celebrates Remarkable State Investments for Youth in Foster Care, Expands Statewide (Press release)
Treehouse – May 10, 2021
The Washington State Legislature notably adopted key policies during the 2021 legislative session to better support youth experiencing foster care, including an increase in critical educational investments through Treehouse to support high school students statewide. The nonprofit has become Washington’s leading organization addressing the academic and other essential supports of more than 7,800 youth in foster care statewide. Since its inception in 2011, Treehouse’s groundbreaking youth-centered academic program, Graduation Success, has dramatically increased graduation rates throughout the state.


US: Facebook Should Halt Instagram Youth, Attorneys General Say (Includes audio and video)
Bloomberg – May 10, 2021
Forty-four attorneys general are urging Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to abandon plans to build a new version of photo-sharing network Instagram for young children, arguing the new app could harm kids’ mental health and compromise their privacy.


US: Leveling the Playing Field: The case for eliminating the Section 1108 ceiling (Commentary)
Family Room Blog (US Administration for Children and Families) – May 10, 2021
Think about it: What would be your situation if you hadn’t gotten a raise since 1996? That’s how it’s been for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa, U.S. territories whose federal funding for several assistance programs that provide services for children and families is capped under Sec. 1108 of the Social Security Act. No cap in funding for any other state in the union.


US: Mexican minors trying to join family in U.S. face legal hurdles other nationalities don’t
Border Report – May 10, 2021
Mexico by far remains the top country of origin when it comes to immigrants living in the United States. Twenty-five percent of all immigrants are from Mexico compared to 8 percent for all Central America, according to an August 2020 Pew Research Center report. Yet when unaccompanied minors try to cross into the United States to join family members, being from Mexico is a handicap in the eyes of the law, legal experts and migrant advocates say.
Also: Key findings about U.S. immigrants:


US: Policymakers Used to Ignore Child Care. Then Came the Pandemic. (May require subscription)
New York Times – May 09, 2021
Experts who sounded the alarm about the care economy were often shunted to the side of policy discussions. Not anymore.




International: More Citizens are Accessing Social Services and Want Proactive and Personalized Experiences, Accenture Report Finds (Press release)
Accenture – May 11, 2021
A new report from Accenture found that many citizens have acquired significant new caregiving responsibilities at home during the pandemic, yet most are unaware of what social services are available to them. The report, “Social Services: Lead with Impact,” found that while more than half (57%) of citizens surveyed said that the response of their social service agencies to the COVID-19 pandemic has been strong, the majority (89%) said they lack sufficient guidance on what social services they are eligible to access. This posed a challenge for the more than half (56%) of respondents who have had significant new caregiving responsibilities at home during the crisis.
Also: Report: Welfare services: lead with impact:


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