Kids, even those in foster care programs, should grow up in supportive families, and policymakers should do what they can to make that happen, a new report from the Annie E Casey Foundation says.
Living with at least one parental figure is integral to children’s healthy development—the benefits of that arrangement contribute to their success throughout life, the report, entitled “Every Kid Needs a Family,” says: “Nurturing families treat children as individuals, leveraging their strengths, meeting their needs and encouraging developmentally appropriate independence within a caring relationship.”
This latest policy report, released last week by the Baltimore-based foundation, examines state data they say shows an urgent need to ensure, through sound policies and proven practices, that kids in foster care can find loving, nurturing, and supported families.
- Nearly 57,000 young people in child welfare systems in the US aren’t living with a family, which is down over the last decade on a percentage basis but still too high
- 1 in 7 children who’ve been removed from their homes by child welfare systems are living in group placements, even though group placements cost taxpayers seven to 10 times what family placements cost
- 40% of kids placed in group facilities have no documented behavioral or clinical reason for such a restrictive setting, so spending tax dollars on group placements isn’t any less destructive than, say, spending tax dollars to buy alcohol
The report doesn’t restrict the definition of a “family” to a mom, a dad, and kids, though. Families for kids can be “a mother and father, a single parent, a beloved aunt or uncle, a grandparent, or a caring foster or adoptive family,” the authors note.
What’s important is the bond created within the family, which, it is claimed, “gives meaning to our successes, cushions our hardships, and allows us to be most ourselves.” A family “provides a compass from birth to death. It is the definition of home.”