Focus on the Figures: Miles from Home

Last week, The Chronicle of Social Change kicked off a seven-part series on California’s out-of-county foster care placements.

Our reporting shows that one in five California foster youth will be moved out of the county they originally called home.

The “net exporting” counties like San Francisco, where we see as many as 60 percent of foster youth crossing county lines, tend to be in Northern California where counties are smaller in terms of square mileage.

Data furnished by the website kidsdata.org, a program of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, shows that whether or not children are placed out of county, many are moving considerable distances from where they grew up.

According to kidsdata’s 2013 placement distance from home data, 52 percent of California children still in foster care 12 months after entering the system were living six or more miles from their home address; and 38 percent lived 11 or more miles from their home address.

Credit: kidsdata.org
Definition: Percentage of children still in foster care 12 months after entry, by distance from home address (e.g., in 2013, 38.1% of children still in foster care in California after 1 year lived 11 or more miles from their home address). Data Source: Webster, D., et al. California Child Welfare Indicators Project Reports, UC Berkeley Center for Social Services Research (May 2015). Credit: kidsdata.org

This means that many kids are facing long drives between their home and their placements, which, as our reporting shows, can compromise services.

Of the counties with available data, San Francisco had the highest percentage of kids living 11 or more miles from home – 57 percent in 2013.

This hasn’t always been the case for San Francisco. In 2012, only 34 percent were living 11 or more miles away from home, placing them below the state average that year.

Credit: kidsdata.org
Definition: Percentage of children still in foster care 12 months after entry, by distance from home address (e.g., in 2013, 38.1% of children still in foster care in California after 1 year lived 11 or more miles from their home address). Data Source: Webster, D., et al. California Child Welfare Indicators Project Reports, UC Berkeley Center for Social Services Research (May 2015). Credit: kidsdata.org

In the coming weeks, we will publish two stories about San Francisco’s out-of-county foster youth. They will help explain what all this movement means to children and their families.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Daniel Heimpel
About Daniel Heimpel 192 Articles
Daniel is the founder of Fostering Media Connections and the publisher of The Chronicle of Social Change.