Every Kentucky kid needs a family and safe place to call home. Sadly, an increasing number of Kentucky children are at risk of finding themselves without a safe place to call home, as the number of Kentucky children in out-of-home care due to abuse or neglect grew by 19 percent from 2010 to 2014. If we want children who have experienced abuse or neglect to thrive, we need a quality continuum of care that gives every child the opportunity to grow up with trusted, nurturing adults—be that birth parents, kinship caregivers, or caring foster parents.
Kentucky Youth Advocates’ newest issue brief, Every Kentucky Kid Needs a Family, presents a series of five recommendations to ensure that children who have experienced abuse or neglect have the chance to grow up in the care of a family:
- Increase the availability and use of family preservation and reunification services to help parents learn how to cope with life stressors while creating a nurturing environment for their children.
- Support kinship families by reopening the Kinship Care Program for new enrollees so that more caregivers can get the financial support they need to raise children.
- Increase the number and quality of foster care homes and equip foster parents with the supports they need to reduce the number of different foster homes a child experiences.
- Only use residential treatment for youth with intense clinical needs with the goal of returning them to a family setting as soon as possible.
- Invest in efficiency in Kentucky’s child welfare system to ensure our most vulnerable children receive appropriate and timely intervention from the Department for Community Based Services by establishing manageable caseloads, either through improved caseload management or by hiring more workers, and by using data and technology to track child outcomes.
We know kids do best in families, and we can build on the positive work in Kentucky to support birth parents, empower kinship and foster families, and only use group placements when they’re necessary. Family truly is the best medicine.
Read Every Kentucky Kid Needs a Family here. Stay tuned to our blog next week for an exploration of the data in Every Kentucky Kid Needs a Family.