boy_sleepingChild abuse and neglect, as well as many other circumstances, can result in a child being placed in out-of-home care. Often, this situation is temporary and is used as an opportunity for the parents or caregivers can work through issues so the child can return home safely. Other times, out-of-home care is a step towards finding a permanent, stable family for a child. Children who are adopted are provided with a lifetime of emotional and legal connections to a family.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is an opportunity to take a look at how the children awaiting adoption in the foster care system in Kentucky are faring. The North American Council on Adoptable Children released a report in the fall of 2014 with figures for Kentucky based on the most recent data available (2012).

The data tells us:

  • On average children wait 1 year in foster care before adoptions are finalized
  • Children who are in care at age 9 and older have a significantly lower likelihood of being adopted compared to younger children in care
  • 780 children were adopted from foster care in Kentucky
  • 1,999 children in Kentucky foster care were waiting to be adopted
  • 586 youth in Kentucky aged out of foster care without a permanent, legal family

For children in out-of-home care who are waiting to be adopted, the clock is ticking. All children need love, stability, and a place to call home.  In order to shorten the time children spend in care, agencies should work to ensure that any child who can return safely home, does so with the proper supports in place. In 2012, just over 10 percent of children who spent time in foster care and then exited, returned to foster care within 12 months. For children who cannot return home, it is essential that agencies employ the best recruitment tools available to find a permanent family as quickly as possible.

It is also important to support children and families once permanency is reached in order to address the trauma of abuse and neglect and the experience of the instability of out-of-home care. Post-permanency services like mental health services, post-adoption subsidies, guardianship subsidies, and intensive family preservation services can help to ensure families are as strong as possible.

Not all out-of-home care is preventable, but those placements with incidents related to abuse and neglect can be prevented because child abuse is preventable. Child abuse can alter a child’s life forever, whether it results in the need for an adoptive family, or the long lasting impacts that can result from trauma regardless of removal, including mental health issues, increased risk of abusing substances, and chronic health issues.

Learn ways to recognize and prevent child abuse here.

If you want to know more about providing a permanent family for a child who needs it, please follow the link here.