Kinship and family placements almost always provide more stability for foster children. Children placed with family members are less likely to run away. Foster children that grow up in kinship care or are adopted by a biological family member do better in school, make better grades, form healthy relationships in their communities, and they are more likely to go to college and grow to be productive members of society.
Foster care is needed, although the states cannot justify 75% to 99% of child removals. Many times children are taken because parents cannot get along and use the courts to “throw dirt” at each other until the states get involved. Once that happens, children may lose their parents because there were dirty dishes or dirty laundry during a home inspection. There are countless cases of family members being separated from each other because kitchen knives were in an unlocked drawer or it could have been because cleaning supplies were in an unlocked cabinet. The horrifying result is that about 1,000 children lose their families and become orphans every day!
Still, most children fare better with their own families than they do in foster care, even if their own family is not so perfect. Children in foster care are 8 times more likely to be abused than they are in their less than perfect homes and 28 times more likely to be sexually assaulted, especially in group homes.
Because the foster care system failed so badly, and because the FBI found that children from foster care “were being pimped out” and sometimes rescued in sex trafficking operations, the funding is finally shifting to family placements and kinship care. But not fast enough. There are still many loopholes that need to be addressed so that the “best interest of the children” may actually be defined and implemented in and out of the courtrooms.
A major funding problem is that states have to show a need to receive funding to operate the failed foster care programs. States show a need by meeting a quota every year. Rather than states being required to show successful outcomes. States are required to meet a quota on the number of children that are placed in foster care, The more children that are removed from their homes and placed in foster homes with complete strangers equals more money for each state. By exceeding the quota each year, states are then able to ask Congress for the next year’s funds, and more money because the need has grown.
The funding is set up through the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) that was created in 1997 under the Mondale and Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). The Mondale Act laid the foundation that created a lucrative revenue for communities if they removed children from their homes based on abuse and placed them in foster care. CAPTA built on that idea by creating a governing body to fund the states if they removed children from their homes. ASFA shows how the money flows to communities that remove children and place them in foster care.
Fortunately, that problem was addressed in 2018 with the Family First Preventative Services Act that brings about major changes in the way ASFA Title IV-E funding can be spent. Now, states have an option to use funds for “prevention services” that allow “candidates for foster care” to stay with their parents or relatives. It also requires states to have a trauma-informed prevention plan. The Act also curtailed human trafficker’s ability to get their hands on children from group homes because “with limited exceptions”, the federal government will not reimburse states for children placed in group care settings for more than two weeks and requires states to formally assess whether or not the family can meet the child’s needs can be met by family members in a family foster home or another approved setting. In 2019, Congress approved the Family First Transition Act to encourage timely implementation of the Family First act by providing financial relief for states as their child welfare systems develop prevention-focused infrastructures.
States have managed to operate as they always did though because there are still loopholes and many problems in the foster care system that have to be addressed. Right now, unfortunately, there are over 400,000 children lingering in foster care waiting to be placed and the adoption industry is excited to see the dollars pouring in. Sadly, rather than states taking advantage of the option to use funds for “prevention services” that allow “candidates for foster care” to stay with their parents and other relatives, states still tend to lean towards removing children from their own families while placing children with complete strangers in family settings.
The result is that not only are foster children losing their identities and heritages, and living their lives in confusion while experiencing higher rates of abuse, homelessness, and higher rates of criminal justice system involvement, but same-sex couples are seven times more likely to foster and adopt than opposite-sex couples.
88% of children rescued in sex trafficking operations were trafficked from state custody! https://mindinghearts.com/2020/09/06/88-of-children-rescued-in-sex-trafficking-operations-were-trafficked-from-state-custody/
Funding stream to keep families safe and connected. https://mindinghearts.com/2022/04/16/funding-stream-to-keep-families-safe-and-connected/
The Adoption and Legal Guardianship Incentives Payment Program—Earnings History by State.
Trends in Foster Care & Adoption: FY 2010- 2019 Source: AFCARS data, U.S. Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children, Youth and Families Publication Date: November 8, 2018, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/report/trends-foster-care-adoption-2019
Title IV, Office of Children and Family Services, https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/fostercare/titleiv-e/
Green Party The Forgotten Children: Taxpayers Fund Hundreds of Thousands of Unlawful Family Separations Every YearDr. Lynn S. Kahn June 26, 2018 https://www.gp.org/the_forgotten_children
Easy Come, Easy Go; The Plight of Children who Spend Less than Thirty Days in Foster Care Sankaran and Church Final Figures Published by Penn Law: Legal Scholarship Repository, 2017 https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1197&context=jlasc
Every child deserves a family campaign (same sex couples are 7 times more likely to adopt…) https://everychilddeservesafamily.com/campaign-facts
Minding Hearts is building advocacy and peer support groups in each state. The groups are created to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those that might not otherwise be heard. We are here for encouragement, education, and support. We cannot give legal advice, but we can try and direct you in the right direction with your case. Links to legal services are listed with their states. Please share and let’s grow our groups. We are here to support families and develop resources that maintain family integrity. We look forward to your support. If you would rather become active by donating, then visit the donation page.