As child welfare practices have evolved in response to research on healthy child development, more kids who have been removed from home in recent years because of abuse or neglect have been living in families. But the percentage of kids in the child welfare system who are living in families compared with those living in group placements varies considerably from state to state — and sometimes from county to county within a state.
An analysis of 2013 data on the placements of children from birth through age 20 showed that the percentages living in group placements ranged from 4% to 35%. Overall, 14% of children under the care of U.S. child welfare systems lived in group placements.
Five states that have kept family placements high and group placements low include:
- Oregon (94% in family placements; 4% in group placements; 2% in other placements)
- Washington (94% in family placements; 5% in group placements; 1% in other placements)
- Maine (94% in family placements; 5% in group placements; 0% in other placements)
- Nevada (94% in family placements; 6% in group placements; 1% in other placements)
- Kansas (93% in family placements; 5% in group placements; 1% in other placements)
Note: Percentages may not add up to 100 percent because of rounding. “Other” placements include runaways and supervised independent living.
While residential treatment — a specialized form of group placement — is a beneficial, short-term option for the small percentage of young people with severe or complex needs that can’t be met in a home environment, we know kids do best in families.
To see more data on family and group placements by state, download the Every Kid Needs a Family report.