New Data Project Finds Nation Struggling to House Foster Kids

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The Chronicle of Social Change, a national news site focused on children, youth and families, released a groundbreaking analysis of the nation’s foster care housing crisis today.

Entitled “Who Cares: A National Count of Foster Homes and Families,” this ambitious data and reporting project yielded significant findings, which point to a foster care system that often fails to recruit and retain enough caregivers for the children in it.

  • We project that the six-year surge in national foster care numbers is over. Using 2018 data from every state excluding Maine, The Chronicle projects a total of 439,020 youth in foster care this year, which is 1,555 more than the 2016 total calculated by the federal Children’s Bureau. But, this year’s estimate represents 3,980 fewer children than The Chronicle’s 2017 projection of 443,000 children in care.
  • Persistent Reliance on Group Homes: In the face of a new federal law calling for reduced use of so-called “congregate care” facilities, 31 states have placed a higher percent of foster youth in these types of placements in 2016 than they did in 2012.
  • At least 15 states lost foster homes between 2017 and 2018. Georgia led the pack, shedding 37 percent of its non-relative foster care placements in one year. This while the number of foster kids there has surged.
  • The Rise of Relatives: Systems are increasingly reliant on relatives to care for foster children, but often are not compensating them to do so. Forty-four states saw an increase in relative placements from 2012 to 2016. In 23 of those states, more than half of all relative caregiver’s receive no assistance.

To arrive at these findings, unavailable through any other source, The Chronicle sent data requests to every state-level public child welfare agency in the nation, poured over federal data and sent reporters to examine these findings in key states.

The full findings, state-by-state analyses, and on-ground news stories are available at www.fostercarecapacity.org.

In conjunction with the release of “Who Cares,” The Chronicle is producing live events in Los Angeles (Oct. 16), Chicago (Oct. 22), Atlanta (Oct. 24) and Washington D.C. (Nov. 13). Members of the press are welcome to each and every one of these events.

The Chronicle of Social Change is a national news site published by Fostering Media Connections focused the issues that vulnerable children, youth and families face and the public systems that serve them.

Fostering Media Connections is a non-profit news organization that uses a mix of investigative, accountability and solution-oriented journalism to drive reform within the systems that serve vulnerable children, youth and their families.

FMC publishes The Chronicle, and a print magazine, Fostering Families Today. Both have won numerous awards.

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