(Baltimore, MD, Tuesday, April 2, 2019) – The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released Keeping Children in Families: Trends in Placement of Young People in Foster Care in the United States, using data from the child welfare system across all 50 states over a 10-year period to look at how placements for young people in foster care have changed.

Being part of a family is a basic human need and essential to well-being, especially for children, teenagers and young adults who are rapidly developing and transitioning to independence, as documented in the Casey Foundation’s 2015 report, Every Kid Needs a Family. The new data suggest a growing consensus among practitioners and policymakers that young people in the child welfare system should live in families.

Placing young people with relatives or close friends when they cannot live with their birth families helps minimize the trauma of removal, maintaining vital connections and often keeping sibling groups together.  Children in kin placements are generally less likely to experience bad outcomes in education, to experience early pregnancy or to run away. Relatives are less likely to request that children be removed when their behavior becomes hard to bear.

The Casey Foundation calls on state child welfare systems to use the opportunities afforded by the Family First Act, which was signed into law in 2018, to increase available services to stabilize families. Similarly, states can:

  • Prioritize recruitment of kin and foster families for older youth and youth of color in recruitment planning;
  • Engage families in decision making, since kin and foster parents should be treated as important members of a child’s team; and
  • Require director approval for non-kin placements.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow.

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