Foster youth need loving, stable families to help them heal from their histories of trauma. Unfortunately, two out of three California foster children in care for 24 months or more experience three or more placements. Frequent moves can result in a sense of loss, distrust and a fear of forming healthy bonds, brain changes and, ultimately, placement in a group home. Foster youth generally do better when they’re raised in families rather than group homes, but nearly 35 percent of foster youth ages 16-17 don’t live in family-like settings. This is a direct result of a system that does too little to provide the necessary training, support and services to foster parents—especially relatives.
Almost 20,000 foster children, more than one-third of all California foster children, are in kinship care, meaning that they are raised by relatives. These children are two times more likely to report positive emotional health than their peers in the child welfare system. Yet relatives receive the least financial support, supervision and services, making it difficult to meet the needs of their foster kids.
Because too little support is provided to caregivers, especially relatives, it’s difficult to recruit and maintain enough quality foster homes for all the children in the state’s care. This can perpetuate a traumatizing cycle of instability for California foster children.
Pro-Kid® Policy Agenda
California must prioritize policies promoting kids’ placement stability, reduce reliance on group care and ensure foster children receive all the services they need to thrive. All caregivers should get training, support and services they need to be successful parents to children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
California’s Continuum of Care Reform is an ongoing effort, started in 2011, to increase placement stability for foster youth by ensuring support and services are available in home-based settings. In addition, the Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Program is landmark legislation signed into law by Governor Brown in June 2014 to provide relatives caring for foster youth access to much-needed additional financial support. Also, the legal rights of foster youth are now more protected thanks to $11 million in the 2015-16 state budget, which will reduce caseloads so that lawyers can provide more effective legal representation and potentially reduce the length of court involvement for youth and families.