New report: Foster youth increasingly placed in families

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New report: Foster youth increasingly placed in families


Children in the care of Iowa’s child welfare system are more likely than ten years ago to be placed in families, as opposed to group homes or other settings, according to the “Keeping Kids in Families: Trends in U.S. Foster Care Placement,” a new data snapshot released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of its KIDS COUNT® project.

Using data from the child welfare system across all 50 states and DC over a 10-year period, the report finds that, nationwide, care systems placed 86 percent of foster children in families in 2017, compared with 81 percent in 2007.

In Iowa, the increase was even sharper. In 2007, 78 percent of children in care were placed in families; in 2017, 88 percent were – a gain of 11 percentage points.

Despite this overall improvement, there’s significant variation among demographic groups.

Only 61 percent of Iowa teens in care were placed in families in 2017, while nearly all young children – 98 percent of those age 12 and under – were. That means nearly 2 of every 5 older youth were in a non-family settings – mostly in group homes or institutions.

A breakdown by race shows highly uneven progress as well, with black children were least likely to be placed in family settings. Here are the shares of children placed in family settings by race and ethnicity in 2017:

  • Non-Hispanic multiple groups: 92% (up 6 percentage points from 2007)
  • Hispanic: 91% (up 5 percentage points)
  • Non-Hispanic Asian/Hawaiian Pacific Islander: 88% (up 5 percentage points)
  • Non-Hispanic white: 88% (up 11 percentage points)
  • Non-Hispanic American Indian/Native Alaskan: 87% (up 8 percentage points)
  • Non-Hispanic black: 83% (up 7 percentage points)

When children are placed in families, and especially with relatives, they are more likely to finish school and find employment and are less likely to become early parents.

That’s why it’s good news that Iowa is on its way to implementing provisions in the federal Family First Prevention Services Act. This law shifts funding away from group placements and requires states to find families more quickly, especially for older youth and youth of color, and to support those families through difficult times. It represents a key moment for Iowa leaders to reimagine our system in ways that focus on families and benefit young people.

04/05/2019 1:37 PM |Add a comment
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