Child Welfare System – Idaho

Study: Idaho’s child welfare system overwhelmed, overworked, By Associated Press and Samantha Wright, February 8, 2017, Boise State Public Radio: “State auditors say Idaho’s child welfare system is overwhelmed, with too few foster parents, too heavy caseloads for social workers and not enough infrastructure to hold it all together.  The study from the Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluations found that the number of foster parents has decreased by 8 percent since 2014, while social workers are dealing with 28 to 38 percent more cases than they can reasonably handle…”

Foster Care – Kentucky

Court: Kentucky must pay relatives who take in foster kids, By Deborah Yetter, February 1, 2017, Courier-Journal: “A federal appeals court has ruled Kentucky must pay relatives who serve as foster parents in the same manner it pays adults who are licensed as foster parents and paid a daily rate.  Friday’s ruling by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals could prove a budget blow to the state’s human services agency, already straining to care for a growing number of children removed from homes because of abuse or neglect…”

Foster Care Program – North Carolina

State law extends foster-care benefits, By Kate Elizabeth Queram, January 25, 2017, News & Record: “A recent change in state law allows children to stay in foster care through the age of 21, a safety net that advocates say can help children continue their education and decrease their likelihood of entering the criminal justice system.  The change, known as the Foster Care 18-to-21 initiative, was passed by the General Assembly in 2015 but did not go into effect until Jan. 1. The legislation tweaks several aspects of the state’s previous foster-care policy, under which children automatically aged out of the system at age 18…”

Foster Care Programs – Florida, Minnesota

  • Florida child welfare system under-performing for foster kids, study finds, By Christopher O’Donnell, January 20, 2017, Tampa Bay Times: “A federal agency has given the Florida Department of Children and Families 90 days to come up with a plan to improve its care of foster kids after a study found the state is underperforming in critical areas…”
  • State pledges $400,000 to shrink number of Indian children in foster care, By Brandon Stahl, January 20, 2017, Star Tribune: “With the number of American Indian children in Minnesota foster care reaching ‘unacceptable’ levels, the state pledged Thursday to spend $400,000 over the next three years to reduce those numbers. The announcement comes after a two-part Star Tribune series last summer found that Minnesota has more American Indian children in foster care than any other state, including those with significantly larger Indian populations…”

US Children in Foster Care

5 states struggle with surging numbers of foster children, By David Crary (AP), November 23, 2016, Wisconsin State Journal: “The number of U.S. children in foster care is climbing after a sustained decline, but just five states account for nearly two-thirds of the recent increase. Reasons range from creation of a new child-abuse hotline to widespread outrage over the deaths of children who’d been repeatedly abused. Addictions among parents are another major factor…”

Foster Care System – Texas

Sweeping reforms recommended for Texas foster care system, By Mike Ward, November 4, 2016, Houston Chronicle: “A pair of special masters on Friday recommended sweeping changes to Texas’ scandal-plagued foster care system, including a ban on housing children in state offices and new limits on group homes.  The numbers of cases assigned to Child Protective Services workers should be cut in half to curb skyrocketing turnover rates and improve supervision, the report states…”

Foster Care System – Massachusetts

8 graphics that show the shape of the foster care system, By Matt Rocheleau, October 18, 2016, Boston Globe: “The number of children in the state foster care system has risen in recent months, prompting state officials to recruit more foster parents.  There were 6,118 children in the state Department of Children and Families foster care system at the end of July, about 9 percent more than the 5,618 a year earlier, according to the agency. At least part of the increase has been attributed to the opioid crisis, which has led to more children being removed from drug-addicted parents, the Globe has reported…”

Drug Addiction and Foster Care

Drug-addiction epidemic creates crisis in foster care, By Teresa Wiltz, October 07, 2016, Stateline: “The nation’s drug-addiction epidemic is driving a dramatic increase in the number of children entering foster care, forcing many states to take urgent steps to care for neglected children.  Several states, such as New Hampshire and Vermont, have either changed laws to make it possible to pull children out of homes where parents are addicted, or have made room in the budget to hire more social workers to deal with the emerging crisis…”

Foster Care Systems – Oregon, Arizona

  • New report on Oregon’s foster care system charts solutions, failures, By Hillary Borrud, August 25, 2016, The Oregonian: “An unsparing report spurred by Oregon’s latest foster care scandal identifies fairly obvious remedies for the state’s troubled child welfare system.  But those recommendations, released Thursday and first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive, also highlight the Department of Human Services’ ongoing failure to adopt solutions identified year after year in previous reviews…”
  • Foster care children aging out of Arizona system need transitional help, By Selena Makrides, August 27, 2016, Arizona Republic: “Jasmine Flores entered the Arizona foster care system when she was 13 years old. She stayed in the system, moving from group home to group home to group home and changing schools along the way.  When she approached her 18th birthday, she began to think about life outside of the state care system. She’s now 19, the proud owner of a car and a thriving college student, after participating in the transitional programs for aging foster youth. Flores’s transition story, though, is not typical for the roughly 800 young adults expected to “age-out” of the foster care system in Arizona in 2016…”

Child Welfare Systems – Arkansas, Arizona

  • Children in foster care in Arkansas reaches all-time high, By Brian Fanney, August 22, 2016, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: “The number of children in foster care has reached an all-time high in Arkansas, straining state officials who have long referred to the growth as a crisis.  But the state has reversed a trend of losing foster families every quarter, according to reports prepared by the Division of Children and Family Services…”
  • Critics say Arizona is cheaping out on child-welfare services, By Mary Jo Pitzl, August 21, 2016, Arizona Republic: “Social-service providers are warning that children could linger longer in foster care if the state of Arizona follows through with a new round of contracts they say will cut rates, lower standards and deter qualified applicants.  The complaints arise as the state is on the verge of awarding new contracts for services the Department of Child Safety insists will get kids out of foster care and into permanent homes more quickly, without increasing costs to the state…”

Poverty and the Child Protection System – Ontario, CA

Report shines light on poverty’s role on kids in CAS system, By Sandro Contenta and Jim Rankin, August 15, 2016, Toronto Star: “A new report that for the first time calculates the effect of poverty in Ontario child protection has found it plays a significant role in kids being taken from their families and placed into care.  Children whose families ran out of money for housing were twice as likely to be placed with foster parents or group homes, according to an analysis of Ontario children taken into care in 2013.  Similar rates were found for families who ran out of money for food or for utilities. Children with a parent suffering from addiction or mental health problems were also placed in care at about twice the overall rate…”

Schools Districts and Students in Foster Care

How children in foster care could benefit from the new federal education law, By Emma Brown, June 23, 2016, Washington Post: “The Obama administration on Thursday released new guidance explaining what states and school districts must do to meet new legal obligations to students in foster care, who are often among the nation’s most vulnerable children. For the first time, schools, districts and states must publicly report on the performance of children in foster care, a requirement that advocates hope will help shine a light on the need for more attention and help…”

Child Welfare Systems – New Jersey, Nebraska

  • N.J. making progress revamping child welfare system once among worst in U.S., By Susan K. Livio, June 8, 2016, NJ.com: “The federal monitor of New Jersey’s child welfare system Wednesday praised the Christie administration for one again making “significant progress” working with troubled families last year, but also highlighted lingering problems caseworkers had ensuring a child is safe to return home from foster care. Like nearly all of her reports she has issued in the last decade, Judith Meltzer issued a mixed report card on the state’s overhaul of child protection services, but stressed how far the system had come from being once regarded as one of the nation’s worst…”
  • Report shows recent, ‘significant’ increase of children in foster care, By Martha Stoddard, June 9, 2016, Omaha World-Herald: “A new state report shows that the number of Nebraska children in foster care has been growing in recent months, reversing a three-year downward trend.  The Foster Care Review Office’s quarterly report offered no explanation for the change.  But it said the increase for children in the child welfare system has been ‘significant…'”

Child Welfare System – Oregon

  • Foster care crisis: Oregon failing in every area possible in federal review, By Denis C. Theriault, April 20, 2016, The Oregonian: “A new federal study finds Oregon’s child welfare system is failing across the board when it comes to keeping thousands of children in state care safe and healthy.  According to the report, caseworkers are still taking too long to check on allegations of abuse and neglect, with just more than half of investigations completed on time. Even in the most serious cases, where check-ins are required within 24 hours, the state met that goal less than two-thirds of the time…”
  • Report: Ore. DHS fails all federal child care standards, By Gordon Friedman, April 21, 2016, Statesman Journal: “State officials knew eight years ago of deficiencies in their child welfare programs and failed to address any of the significant issues, according to a report sent to federal assessors last month. The 2008 review found the Oregon Department of Human Services below standard in 11 of 13 federal child care assessment categories…”

Foster Care System – California

California’s two different visions for better foster care, By Jessica Mendoza, March 9, 2016, Christian Science Monitor: “Alberto Gutierrez had been off the streets and living at a youth shelter in Los Alamitos, Calif., for about a year when, for the first time in his life, he found himself nursing a broken heart. His girlfriend of nearly two years – someone who had helped see him through the horror of being homeless – had cheated on him, he learned. ‘I felt like I had been stabbed in the chest,’ says Mr. Gutierrez, who was 15 at the time. ‘I started crying. I needed a hug.’  Thankfully, he says, Kathleen Cyr, a senior staffer at Casa Youth Shelter, where Gutierrez was then living, was happy to oblige. To a boy with few friends, a rocky relationship with his stepfather, and a mother fighting a heroin addiction, that bit of comfort meant the world, says Gutierrez, now 18…”

Child Welfare System – Mississippi

Mississippi fights to keep control of Its beleaguered child welfare system, By Emily Palmer and Campbell Robertson, January 17, 2016, New York Times: “In 2003, a tiny girl weighing little more than 20 pounds arrived at an emergency shelter here on the gulf coast, after being shuttled between five foster homes and youth shelters in three months. ‘Who’s the baby?’ Terry Latham, the director of the shelter, recalled asking. ‘I’m no baby,’ the girl shouted, her ribs visible in her emaciated body. ‘I’m 4.’  The girl, identified as Olivia Y., who suffered from profound malnourishment and possibly sexual abuse, would become one of 13 children whose experiences formed a class-action lawsuit in 2004 against the state’s Division of Family and Children’s Services for ‘failing in its duty’ to protect its own children.  More than a decade later, after a 2008 settlement and an admission by the state in July that it had never complied with the requirements, Mississippi is now trying to avoid becoming the first state to have its child welfare system put in receivership and an outside group hired to run it…”

Foster Care – Florida, Ohio, New York City

  • Rate of kids coming into Florida’s foster care rising, By Margie Menzel, November 28, 2015, Orlando Sentinel: “More children are coming into Florida’s foster-care system after a sweeping child-welfare reform law went into effect 19 months ago, but officials say the state is trying to focus on what’s best for kids in difficult situations…”
  • Ohio House approves bill to extend foster-care eligibility to 21-year-olds, By Jim Siegel and Rita Price, December 1, 2015, Columbus Dispatch: “The Ohio House gave overwhelming support Tuesday to a bill designed to improve Ohio’s guardianship system and expand the age at which young Ohioans are eligible for foster care services.  But before House Bill 50 passed in an unusual process that included three committee votes, majority Republicans removed a bill of rights aimed at providing specific protections to 67,000 wards who are under court-appointed guardianship…”
  • New York City to stop sending older teens to foster-care intake center, By Mara Gay, December 1, 2015, Wall Street Journal: “New York City’s child-welfare agency plans to stop placing older youths in a single intake center on Manhattan’s East Side as they wait to be placed with foster families, and instead find temporary homes for them, city officials said…”

Foster Care System – Minnesota

Child protection reforms strain Minnesota’s foster care system, By Brandon Stahl, November 10, 2015, Star Tribune: “Minnesota’s renewed effort to stop child abuse and neglect is straining the foster care system, a refuge for children removed from their homes. The number of children placed into foster care has risen dramatically in the past year, and a larger share of them are staying in the system longer, state child welfare and court records show. Some foster parents are also complaining that a cut in reimbursements is discouraging them from taking any more children…”

Foster Children and Psychotropic Drug Prescriptions – California

California foster care: New laws signed to restrict psychiatric drugs, By Karen de Sá, October 7, 2015, San Jose Mercury News: “Creating sweeping new protections for tens of thousands of California’s most traumatized children, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed the nation’s most comprehensive set of laws to curb the overprescribing of psychiatric drugs in foster care.  For the first time, the state will train caregivers and court officials on the hazards of psychotropic drugs, scour medicated children’s health records for alarming prescriptions and step up scrutiny of residential facilities that rely too heavily on the medications to control kids’ behavior…”