New Foster Care Data Show Progress in Placing Kids with Families

Posted May 26, 2011
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Newsrelease kidscount fostercareplacement 2011

A new KIDS COUNT data snap­shot on fos­ter care place­ment released today by The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion dur­ing Nation­al Fos­ter Care Month shows progress in find­ing fam­i­lies for the near­ly half-mil­lion chil­dren in fos­ter care.

How­ev­er, the data indi­cate the urgent need to move greater num­bers of old­er chil­dren and youth out of insti­tu­tion­al set­tings and group homes into more appro­pri­ate fam­i­ly settings.

Accord­ing to the fed­er­al Adop­tion and Fos­ter Care Analy­sis and Report­ing Sys­tems (AFCARS), the total num­ber of chil­dren in fos­ter care has declined from 544,303 in 2000 to 423,773 in 2009. Fos­ter chil­dren most often live in non-rel­a­tive fos­ter fam­i­lies (48%), fol­lowed by rel­a­tive fos­ter fam­i­lies (24%), group homes or insti­tu­tions (16%) and oth­er set­tings such as super­vised inde­pen­dent liv­ing (13%).

The AFCARS data also reveal sev­er­al pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive trends at the state lev­el. Thir­ty-sev­en states have reduced group-home or insti­tu­tion­al place­ments since 2000 with five states (Ari­zona, Louisiana, New Jer­sey, New Mex­i­co, Okla­homa) reduc­ing their num­bers by more than 50%. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, nine states (Arkansas, Col­orado, Flori­da, Geor­gia, Hawaii, Mon­tana, South Car­oli­na, Ver­mont, Wis­con­sin) have seen an alarm­ing rise in the use of group homes.

We must increase the num­ber of chil­dren con­nect­ed to sta­ble and per­ma­nent fam­i­lies who can meet their emo­tion­al and phys­i­cal needs,” says Bren­da Don­ald, vice pres­i­dent and head of the Foundation’s Cen­ter for Effec­tive Fam­i­ly Ser­vices and Sys­tems. Fos­ter Care Month is observed through­out May,” adds Don­ald, and the Casey Foun­da­tion appre­ci­ates and applauds the many thou­sands of peo­ple who serve as fos­ter par­ents. It is also impor­tant to note that research in this area shows that youth who live in insti­tu­tion­al set­tings are at greater risk of devel­op­ing phys­i­cal, emo­tion­al and behav­ioral prob­lems that can lead to poor out­comes and are less like­ly to find a per­ma­nent home than those who live with fos­ter families.”

This data snap­shot explores one of the 16 new indi­ca­tors on chil­dren in out of home place­ment now avail­able in the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter.

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