Fostering Media Connections Shines Spotlight, Moves Policy on Foster Care Housing Crisis
From 2012 to 2017, the number of children in foster care in America climbed from roughly 400,000 to more than 440,000, an 11.6 percent increase.
During the same period, many states lost the foster homes and families needed to care for the surging numbers of children in the system. This capacity crisis is set to grow more acute with the imminent implementation of a sweeping new federal law that severely cuts funding to group homes and other facilities where nearly 54,000 foster youth currently live.
Understanding the need to create urgency around this issue for policymakers at all levels of government, Fostering Media Connections jumped into action.
On Oct. 15, we released a data reporting project entitled “Who Cares: A National Count of Foster Homes and Families,” which offered state-by-state breakdowns of where – and with whom – foster children are placed.
The following day, we kicked off a series of events to highlight the report’s findings and compel action to increase foster care capacity. Those events took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. and sparked 27 stories in mainstream media outlets across the country, ranging from CBS News in Chicago, to The Atlanta Journal Constitution,The Des Moines Register, The Associated Press, and KPCC and PBS SoCal in Los Angeles.
These events featured key lawmakers and administrators, including Congressmember Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Bobby Cagle, director of L.A. County’s Department of Children and Family Services, and Tom Rawlings, director of Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services.
During our D.C. event, Rep. Bass said that the federal government must do more for the relatives who care for more than 140,000 foster children, but are routinely denied payments and systemically diverted from important resources.
“Given that it is a new day in Congress, there may be opportunities to seek resources for relatives,” Bass said.
And in Georgia, state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, who attended our event there, said that she would likely introduce legislation to raise pay for relative caregivers in that state.
Who Cares is but one example of how Fostering Media Connections used its powerful journalism to drive reform that improves the lives of vulnerable children in 2018.
In 2019, we will focus increased attention on the critical role relative caregivers play for foster youth and not rest until public systems treat them fairly.
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