by KYW’s Dr. Marciene Mattleman
Richard Barth, a professor of social work at The University of Maryland, is an expert on child welfare services. According the The Chronicle of Higher Education, early in his career he worked with autistic children, learning sign language to help kids who had trouble verbalizing.
His scholarship comes from other personal experiences. He and his wife are adoptive parents of two children—a three and a half year old boy and his two and a half year old half sister who had been in foster care.
Barth subsequently researched high rates of homelessness among former foster children, influencing legislation extending financial support for kids who “age out” at 18 but are not ready to leave home. His work has improved support services for those who take in neglected and abused children.
Barth helped persuade Congress to pass The Multiethnic Placement Act in 1994 removing barriers to placing children with parents of another race. But despite his successes and the growth in numbers of adoptive parents to 50,000 a year, Barth advocates for more support and training for parents.