Foster Care System Faces Problems

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More than half a million children are in foster care in the United States today — roughly double the number who were in foster care in the mid-1980s, according to the Child Welfare League of America.

“Having thousands of kids in foster care is a cause for concern because it’s at an enormous financial and human cost,” says Carrie Friedman, who runs the the CWLA’s national database of child welfare statistics. The number of children in foster care nationwide fluctuates between 550,000 and 600,000, according to Friedman.

In 1980, about 500,000 children were in foster care, but a series of successful reforms, starting with that year’s Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act, dramatically decreased the number of children in foster care. But in the early 1990s, with the advent of crack cocaine and an economic recession — the numbers went back up, Friedman says. “Nationally, we saw a dip and then a rise, and now the numbers are staying flat.”

Advocates Urge Strengthening Communities

Child welfare advocates say the foster system is in need of changes so that children spend less time in foster homes, with foster families who are more competent. Young adults who have grown up in foster care also need more help in making the transition to independent living, the advocates say.

Another problem is that today more and more children are going into care as victims of violence or sexual abuse. “Kids are much more disturbed than they ever were,” says Max Donatelli, director of care management at Baker Victory Services, a nonprofit that provides services, including foster care, to children in the Buffalo, N.Y. area.

Some advocates also argue for greater efforts to strengthen the impoverished communities where foster children often come from. When communities break down, foster rolls grow and the cycle feeds itself, they say. Because of the connectedness between the health of communities and the safety of kids, many experts recommend child welfare agencies look to rebuild old-fashioned safety nets.

“The key today is to build a stronger neighborhood to protect kids,” says John Mattingly, senior program associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, Md., where he studies state and national trends in childcare services.

In places like Cleveland, where Mattingly worked for years, a history of poor foster care is part of a more complicated picture, he says. “Cleveland still has serious problems, made worse by drugs and unemployment.”

Cleveland was also where Antwone Fisher, the man whose life inspired Denzel Washington’s new movie, spent years in foster care. Mattingly, who has met Fisher as an adult, believes his difficult years in the foster care system might have been avoided if child welfare authorities had been more aware of his extended family in the city. “What’s so tragic about his story is that Antwone used to walk by his paternal grandfather’s house every day. The first thing child welfare workers need to do is to find these kids’ relatives. That’s why neighborhoods, particularly knowing who’s in the neighborhood, are both so important.”

Despite difficult circumstances, foster kids can be great achievers, advocates say. As well as Fisher, basketball star Alonzo Mourning and actor Victoria Rowell were both foster children. Mourning and Rowell now advocate for foster kids.

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Good afternoon Foster Care Kids Need Love Too family please send your monetary donations by clicking the make a difference donate picture. Year-Round we are in need of backpacks, diaper bags, school supplies, hygiene items, stuffed animals, books for all ages, toys, address books, journals, coloring books, strollers, pack and plays, baby clothes, games, socks, shoes & clothes. Every donate count so please help us today! “Drawing Success” for foster care youth of our nation. Have bless day.
 

Number of children in foster care dropping in D.C. region

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The number of children in foster homes is plummeting in the District and throughout the region, and the explanation is simple: Governments are practically bending over backward to keep kids out of the system, because research has found that children tend to have better outcomes when they stay in their homes.

Since January 2012, the District cleared 329 children from its foster care ledger, a 19 percent decline. The city’s annual budget analysis determined the agency responsible for those reductions, the Child and Family Services Agency, came in at $3.2 million under budget.

Kids are brought into “the system” after child welfare agencies intervene. That can happen for any number of reasons — a teacher might phone in concerns of abuse to a hot line, or a parent could wind up in jail, leaving a child unattended

Source: Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments “2011 Foster Care Annual Report”

Trending down
The number of children in foster care around the Washington area:
2008 2009 2010 2011
D.C. 2,264 2,103 2,007 1,744
Arlington County 147 133 115 101
Fairfax County 394 370 337 326
Montgomery County 575 546 516 498
Pr. George’s County 608 599 592 595
Alexandria City 181 167 126 126

“Before, we used to have this wide-open front door, and kids would come into foster care and then they would get stuck,” said Brenda Donald, who took the helm at the District’s Child and Family Services Agency and previously headed Maryland’s Department of Human Resources from 2007 to 2010.

Donald estimates that the District spends about $50,000 per child in foster care each year, but, she said, trying to keep children with family members is generally in their best interest, not a penny-pinching approach. Moving into foster care, Donald said, can be a “scary,” “traumatic” experience for the child, best avoided if at all possible.

Her perspective matches a national shift. From September 2007 to September 2011, the number of children in foster care in the United States fell from 488,285 to 400,540, an 18 percent decline.

More and more, the focus is on trying to make a child’s own home safe or finding a family member who can step in.

“It is a trend we’re seeing,” said Kamilah Bunn, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Child Welfare Program manager. “It means kids are ending up with their relatives instead of a stranger’s home.”

Between 2008 and 2011, Alexandria City, Arlington County and Fairfax County all cut their number of children in foster care. Collectively, they fell from 722 in 2008 to 553 in 2011, a 23 percent drop.

“Everybody is trying different things to keep kids in their homes,” said Agnes Leshner, director of Child Welfare Services in Montgomery County, which she said saw a roughly 16 percent drop in the past year.

In 2001, there were 3,200 kids in foster care in the District. Today, there are less than half that number: 1,430.

Besides proactive efforts across the country to try to keep children with their families, there have been cultural shifts, as well. As the crack cocaine and HIV/AIDS epidemics diminish, experts say, households are simply safer.

“When I was a social worker for the city years ago, I saw the number of children in foster care double. I was a social worker for the city when we had crack and HIV and AIDS,” said Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells. He said the city had made major strides since then.

“This is really good news for the District of Columbia,” he said.

Foster care agency opens locations in Abilene and San Angelo

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A child placement agency that focuses on “forgotten children” now has an Abilene office.

A World for Children, a faith-based nonprofit organization with headquarters in Round Rock, recently opened two new offices — in Abilene and San Angelo — bringing its number of locations in Texas to 13.

The agency is licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to provide foster care for abused and neglected children, from birth to 18 years old. It also has a contract with TDFPS to provide adoption services.

Sharon Willis, a founder of A World for Children, said she considers her job a ministry “to serve the children, the forgotten children who truly are God’s very special children.”

Other AWFC offices in the Big Country include locations in Big Spring and Brownwood.

Willis said one of the goals of the state’s recent redesign of the foster care system is to keep children within a 25-mile radius of their hometown.

“Instead of (us) continuing to expand in Brownwood, we went ahead and opened offices in Abilene and San Angelo so we can better serve these children and meet the goal of the redesign,” Willis said.

The Abilene office at 1 Village Drive, Suite 102, currently has two employees, with another person being interviewed for an additional position. The local office is supported by AWFC’s Brownwood office, from which a clinical director, a regional director and a case management supervisor take turns traveling to Abilene.

People interested in becoming foster parents can visit their local office to speak with a representative. Certain state-mandated criteria must be met, and classes completed — along with an extensive background check.

Willis said the process of becoming a foster parent takes anywhere from 30 to 60 days, depending on the circumstance.

“We are very careful in where we place our children,” she said.

“For adoption, we have our families go through foster parenting before they become adoptive parents,” she said, “because we found out that the success rate is higher if everybody has lived together for a while and has gotten to know each other.”

Since its establishment in 1997, A World for Children has served more than 10,000 youngsters, Willis said.

“We’re currently serving 800 children across the state,” she added.

“To increase awareness of the impact of child abuse in the communities we serve,” the organization will conduct a 5K race, the “Run for Dreams,” on April 13 at Nelson Park, Willis said.

April is Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.

Those interested in participating in the “Run for Dreams” can contact the Abilene office at 325-641-1055 or visit www.awfc.org.

Missing 13-year-old foster child in East Naples found safe

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Anillian Jacobs, the 13-year-old foster child who was reported missing Thursday morning in East Naples, has been located and is safe, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office reported early Friday.

EARLIER:

Public’s help sought in finding missing 13-year-old foster child

The Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, the agency that oversees the child welfare system in Southwest Florida, is asking for the public’s help in locating a missing foster child.

Arlillian Jacobs, 13, was last seen in the vicinity of Whitaker Road in East Naples in the past 24 hours, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

She is described as 5 feet 9 inches, 240 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

“Children who have suffered from abuse or neglect have a heightened level of vulnerability, which makes them more susceptible to possible victimization by society. We are asking for the communities’ help in identifying this child’s whereabouts and assisting in her safe return. If anyone has information on her whereabouts, please contact the Collier County Sheriff’s Office at 239-252-9300 immediately,” said Aimee McLaughlin, director of Communications for the Children’s Network.

New campaign puts a face on foster care in southern Utah, public invited

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ST. GEORGE – Utah Foster Care Foundation is hosting a public forum for those wanting to know what it’s really like to be a foster parent or a child in foster care. The public is invited to meet foster families face-to-face at the free public forum in St. George on Feb. 20.

St. George and Cedar City families have a chance to hear the experiences of actual Utah foster families

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Through Utah Foster Care’s latest outreach campaign, St. George and Cedar City families have a chance to hear the experiences of actual Utah foster families. In southwest Utah, there are 270 children in foster care, nearly half of them age 11 and above.

“We have a new effort underway to find foster families in the St. George area,” the Foster Care Foundation Communications Manager Deborah Lindner said.

The integrated media campaign, “Utah Foster Care Changed My Life,” features teens adopted through foster care and their foster parents in 30-second spots appearing on social media and in movie theater screens in St. George and Cedar City. The spots direct viewers to “hear more” in online videos on Utah Foster Care’s website.

“Foster families are the best people to recruit other foster parents,” Foster Family Recruiter Debbie Hofhines said. “They offer perspective that no one else can give, through their own experiences, in their own words.”

Event Recap and Resources

What: “Foster Care Changed My Life” Public Forum

When: Feb. 20, 6-7:30 p.m.

Where: Utah Foster Care offices, 491 East Riverside Drive, #2B, St. George

Contact and registration: 435-656-8065

Dinner provided. RSVP by Feb.18. Free and open to the public.

Happy Valentines Day!

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We just want to say Happy Valentines Day! to our Foster Care Kids Need Love Too Family! Hugs & Kisses to all god’s children. We love you guys.

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United Friends of the Children is Changing the Face of Foster Care For Generations to Come

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Dedicated to the principle that foster youth deserve a successful adulthood, United Friends of the Children proves that given the right support and opportunities there is an alternative to the dismal outcomes for this underserved population.

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) February 11, 2013

United Friends of the Children has been awarded a $1 million grant by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to support the organization’s efforts to help Los Angeles-based foster youth graduate from high school, eligible to attend four-year colleges. This award recognizes the quality of the programs offered by United Friends of the Children and is testament to the outcomes delivered through its education and housing programs.

United Friends of the Children is leading the way in delivering education programs that defy national outcomes for this underserved population. With almost 50% of foster youth not graduating from high school and less than 4% earning their college degree, poor educational outcomes are a major factor in the lack of success foster youth experience when they transition out of care. By preparing more foster youth to graduate from high school and attend and graduate from four-year colleges, United Friends of the Children is dramatically increasing their chances for success. Currently, 100% of students enrolled in the College Readiness Program for four or more years are graduating from high school, and 70% of youth participating in the College Sponsorship program go on to earn their bachelor’s degree.

“The grant award from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation confirms United Friends of the Children as a leader in providing alternative outcomes for foster youth,” said Polly Williams, president of United Friends of the Children. “Our programs empower transition-aged foster youth to fulfill their educational dreams, including graduating from high school and four-year colleges, and provide them with the foundation to lead independent and successful adult lives.”

“By serving a critical mass of foster youth through its College Readiness program, United Friends of the Children will change the generational impact of foster care in Los Angeles, thus reducing the need for crisis intervention and government services in adulthood,” said Jeannine Balfour, Senior Program Officer for the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “The odds are stacked against youth transitioning out of foster care, but with the right programmatic support and emotional encouragement from caring adults, it is proven that foster youth have the same chance to succeed as their peers.”

ABOUT UNITED FRIENDS OF THE CHILDREN
Over 30 years of experience has shown us that the best way to make a difference in the lives of foster youth is to provide a reliable relationship over time. Therefore, United Friends of the Children’s programs focus on commitment and consistency. College Readiness students can receive up to six years of support; College Sponsorship participants can count on five years of financial support; Pathways participants can spend 18–24 months in program housing but the relationship extends many years beyond that through our alumni program. UFC uses its knowledge and experience to influence policy decisions and is a frequent resource to others locally and across the country, sharing program models, information and expertise. For more information, please visit http://www.UnitedFriends.org.

ABOUT THE CONRAD N. HILTON FOUNDATION
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance abuse, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care, and extending Conrad Hilton’s support for the work of Catholic Sisters. Following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $1.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants, distributing $82 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2011. The Foundation’s current assets are approximately $2 billion.

Seeking a Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary for Foster Care Kids Need Love Too

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Good Morning Foster Care Kids Need Love Too Family! Today we are hitting the ground running. We are accepting applications for a “Vice Chair”, “Treasurer”, and “Secretary”, Please send your curriculum vitae to fostercarekidsneedlovetoo@yahoo.com “Drawing Success” for foster care youth of our nation.

 

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