Every other week, The Chronicle of Social Change features one key indicator from Kidsdata.org, which offers comprehensive data about the health and well-being of children across California.
Federal law requires that children who are removed from their homes are placed in the least restrictive, most familal setting possible that will meet their needs.
As the chart below reflects, the first foster care experience of children in California varies widely:
According to 2010-12 data, a total of 10.2 percent of children were immediately placed in the two settings that least resemble a family environment: emergency shelters (4.2 percent), and group homes (6 percent). On the other end of the spectrum, 23.9 percent of children were placed into foster care with a relative.
Nearly two-thirds of children were placed into foster homes; 19.3 percent into county-run homes, an 44.6 percent into the homes managed by the state’s array of foster family agencies (FFA). Those agencies are officially relied up on for the “placement of children who require more intensive care as an alternative to group homes.”
However, shortages of traditional foster homes in some counties have lead to an over-reliance on the more restrictive and supervisory FFA placements.
The Chronicle could not identify any national research or statistics regarding the first placement into foster care.
John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change