When the child welfare system enters a child’s life and determines they are not safe at home, the child’s journey into the out-of-home care system begins. Potential placements include:
A recent story on NPR’s Youth Radio details a young man’s 20 years spent in the foster care system. He entered out-of-home care as a baby, his siblings scattered through the system, and finally left the system at age 21. He says they were separated and shuffled between foster homes, group homes, shelters, and for at least one of his siblings, incarceration.
In his story, Noel discusses how the system failed him, year after year. He turned 12 in the foster care system and realized that he was getting older, and adoption may be out of the question for him. He left the system at age 21, without the permanency of a family that all children deserve.
Noel’s story is all too common. However, his educational success and stability is rare. Children who experience out-of-home care, compared to children who have not, are less likely to finish high school or obtain post-secondary degrees and are more likely to struggle with unemployment, homelessness, mental health issues, and substance abuse.
Right now, there are nearly 8,000 youth in out-of-home care in Kentucky, which does not include the thousands of children diverted from the foster care system and placed with their grandparents or other relatives, also known as kinship care. Also, over 600 young people age out of foster care every year, meaning they leave the system without a permanent placement with a family.
All of the children who have been removed from their homes for safety reasons and begin a journey within the child welfare system should be guaranteed the supports they need in order to be successful.
The Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children Policy Agenda highlights change that would positively impact children who are placed in out-of-home-care including supporting relatives and the children they step up to raise, ensuring quality education for children in state agency schools, and expanding the definition of “relative” in order to place youth with adults with whom they have a family-like relationship.
Learn more about the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children policy priorities and how they can impact children and families here.