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CHILDREN IN THE for-profit foster care system are dying at alarming rates, but the deaths are not being investigated, and autopsies are not even being attached to the now-closed case files, a two-year investigation has found.

Our foster care system is struggling.

In 2015 there were 43,399 children under 18 living in various types of foster care.

Just ten years earlier there were 25,454.

The numbers have nearly doubled.

Children whose families are investigated for abuse or neglect are likely to do better in life if they stay with their families than if they go into foster care, according to a pioneering study.  The findings intensify a vigorous debate in child welfare: whether children are better served with their families or away from them.

Kids who stayed with their families were less likely to become juvenile delinquents or teen mothers and more likely to hold jobs as young adults, says the study by Joseph Doyle, an economics professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management who studies social policy.

FAMILY INFLUENCE:  Children who stay in troubled families fare better than those put into foster care. Those who:

 Were arrested at least once:
• Stayed with family: 14%
• Went to foster care: 44%

Became teen mothers:
• Stayed with family: 33%
• Went to foster care: 56%

Held a job at least 3 months:
• Stayed with family: 33%
• Went to foster care: 20%

The headline on the New York Times story was startling: “Foster Care as Punishment: The New Reality of ‘Jane Crow.'” The story documented case after case in which poor African-American children were taken from their families and consigned to foster care in situations that would get barely a passing glance in affluent white families. The story described the needless trauma inflicted over and over on children of color.

Statistics show the future bodes poorly for many of the children in the foster care system, a top official with Arrow Child and Family Ministries said. Arrow, an international child-placement agency, claims the statistics describe a “national foster care crisis.”

As of April, there were 349 children from Randall and Potter counties in foster care.

According to national statistics provided by Arrow, 40 to 50 percent of those children will never complete high school. Sixty-six percent of them will be homeless, go to jail or die within one year of leaving the foster care system at 18.