Introducing “Who Cares: A National Count of Foster Homes and Families”
The Chronicle of Social Change, a national news site focused on children, youth and families, has released this ambitious data and reporting project to examine where kids go when they’re removed from home.
“Who Cares: A National Count of Foster Homes and Families” yielded significant findings about states’ struggles to recruit and retain foster homes, and their increased reliance on relatives and group homes.
There are other options, but there are three main sources of placements for these kids:
- The homes of relatives, which many states and the federal government stress as the preferable placement for kids when possible. This is a group that includes both licensed relatives and guardians, as well as informal placements with unlicensed relatives.
- Non-relative, licensed foster homes.
- Congregate Care, a term used to describe group settings such as group homes and institutions.
To develop as much knowledge as possible about each state’s use of both options, we initiated information requests with each state and the District of Columbia and then obtained federally collected data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). We have presented some of the key datasets as national maps and charts, and include much more information in each state profile.
Following are just a few trends The Chronicle of Social Change has identified in analyzing the data we have collected.
Finally, A Decline in Foster Youth?
The five-year trend upward in national foster care numbers may have ended. Using 2018 data from every state excluding Maine, The Chronicle projects a total of 439,020 youth in foster care this year. That is more than the 2016 total calculated through AFCARS. But this estimate represents 3,980 fewer children than The Chronicle’s 2017 projection of 443,000 children in care.
Still Struggling to Recruit
In year one of the project, we focused on non-relative homes and we found that more than half the states had either seen a decline in either total homes or individual foster care beds, or saw increases that were dwarfed by larger upticks in foster youth needing placements.
This year, we are able to make comparisons of non-relative foster homes between 2017 and 2018 in 23 states. Of those, 15 states lost foster homes between 2017 to 2018. Five of those states saw a 20 percent decline … READ MORE