In Md. governor’s race, Brown promises to reduce the number of children in foster care


Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post)

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Anthony G. Brown is pledging to reduce the number of Maryland children in foster care by 1,000 if he is elected governor, using an “aggressive” public-service campaign and more visible profiles of those eligible for adoption on a state Web site.

Brown, Maryland’s lieutenant governor, wants to spend $3.5 million a year on housing for young adults moving out of foster care and hopes to usher in a new philosophy of service delivery among child-welfare workers.

His proposals are contained in a plan released Thursday that makes clear how personal this issue is for him.

Thirteen years ago, Brown writes, he adopted a son.

“When I look at Jonathan, I see so much promise and possibility, and I’m reminded of the positive impact of opening your home and heart to a child who needs you in their life,” Brown says.

Brown is competing against Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D) in the June Democratic primary. All three candidates have been rolling out policy initiatives in an effort to distinguish themselves from their rivals.

As of last year, there were 5,848 children in foster care in Maryland. Brown says in his plan that he will reduce that number to 4,858 by the end of his first term, in 2018.

He proposes obtaining a federal waiver in order to spend child-welfare funds flowing to the state more creatively, including on statewide mentoring networks to support families who have adopted children and to assist youths making the transition from foster care to adulthood.

Brown notes that youths aging out of foster care face a significant risk of homelessness. The $3.5 million a year he promises to spend would be used to construct new housing and retrofit previously utilized buildings.

Some money would flow through nonprofit groups, he says in his plan.

Brown also says he will usher in a “trauma-informed” delivery system among child-welfare workers. Under that philosophy, decisions about placement of children in foster care would be guided by the goal of reducing the stress in their lives, he says.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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