The System Fails to Prioritize Child Well-Being

  • FACT: Youth experience lifelong challenges not only from the trauma of maltreatment but also from their time in the child welfare system.
  • FINDINGS: Mental and physical health problems, food and housing insecurity, education, and substance use are often highlighted. The system is focused on paperwork, policies, and procedures and does not prioritize the well-being of children and youth.
  • VOICE: “It is adamant that officials listen to the pleas of current and former foster youth. We are not just numbers on paper, we are human and deserving of being listened to and acknowledged.” – Youth in Foster Care, Texas
Structural Inequities Drive Child Welfare Involvement

  • FACT: Minority and vulnerable communities are overrepresented within the foster care system.
  • FINDINGS: Children of color and LGBTQ+ youth face racism and discrimination, which affects their entrance to and exit from the child welfare system. Poverty intersects with discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and sexual identity, making poor youth of color and sexual or gender minority youth particularly vulnerable.
  • VOICE: “We see DHS [Oregon Department of Human Services] taking kids away from good parents [who are] struggling and need resources … not their kids taken. We see kids that should be taken with years of documented abuse that are left in the home due to White status in small rural White communities. DHS … needs better and more people of color … [and] needs to work on racism and racist practices.” – Agency Case Worker, Oregon
Providing Stable, Permanent Families Needs to be a Priority

  • FACT: The longer children are in the child welfare system, the worse their short- and long-term outcomes are compared to youth not involved in the system.
  • FINDINGS: Greater efforts are needed to support biological parents prior to the removal of children and to help them regain their children as soon as possible. Once children are removed, caregivers and workers and advocates identify the need to prioritize the well-being of the child versus the needs of the parents.
  • VOICE: “Remaining in limbo for so long is so emotionally damaging for these children.” – Foster Parent Caregiver, Washington
Resource Scarcity and Inequity is Rampant throughout the System

  • FACT: The child welfare system is under resourced and underfunded and this has dire consequences for youth.
  • FINDINGS: Children and youth need more equitable access to the resources that do exist and more services as they age out of care without a family. Services, like rental assistance, employment, and high school and college attainment. The unique needs of caregivers, workers and advocates are also dismissed.
  • VOICE: “The age to keep receiving help and support needs to be extended because I needed help for a long time, and I wasn’t eligible for anything. … I struggled greatly and barely survived for most of my life.” – Former Foster Youth, California
Teaching Youth Self-Sufficiency Must be a Priority

  • FACT: Youth who age out of foster care are more likely to experience homelessness, as well as significant health disparities.
  • FINDINGS: Transition-age foster youth fear for their futures because they feel ill prepared and under resourced to face aging out of foster care. The foster care community would like to see the child welfare system held accountable for ensuring all foster youth are prepared for independence.
  • VOICE: “Extend adoption assistance for youth adopted out of foster care to 24. These kids are not prepared for adulthood at 18 and have extensive setbacks over kids in typical families to be prepared. It is not fair to end benefits at 18 and have to fight for this for them.” – (Pre)Adoptive Caregiver, Minnesota
Those Who Live and Work in the Child Welfare System Should Have a Say in its Functioning

  • FACT: Current and former foster care youth are not part of the decisions-making process that impacts their lives.
  • FINDINGSThe community feels strongly they should have input into the decisions and policies that impact their ability to raise foster children.
  • VOICE: “Please take us into account and give us an actual fighting chance.” – Youth in Foster Care, California “These precious lives are worth every intervention that can be afforded to them.” – Foster Parent Caregiver, Iowa