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New Year, New Ideas for Foster Care

PHOTO: There's a movement afoot for a redesign of the federal side of the foster-care system, which dates back around 30 years. About 1,300 children in Idaho are in foster care. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
PHOTO: There's a movement afoot for a redesign of the federal side of the foster-care system, which dates back around 30 years. About 1,300 children in Idaho are in foster care. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
December 31, 2013

BOISE, Idaho – 2014 should be the year of redesign for foster care, according to Tracey Feild, director of the Child Welfare Strategy Group for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The federal component of the system is about 30 years old, and because experts now say that the quicker a child can be placed permanently, the better, there should be guidelines to encourage that to happen.

Feild points to limits on the length of foster care funding and reimbursements as one idea.

"What we're trying to do is set up incentives for states to improve the way they deal with finding kids permanence, somewhere in the foster-care system," she says

Feild adds changing the funding formula would get more reimbursements to some who are left out – such as grandparents or other kinship care.

Idaho has about 1,300 children in foster care and is always looking for more families to help Call 211 if you are interested.

The bottom line, Feild says, is that the current system, which often bumps children from home to home in foster care, isn't good for the children.

She points to increased rates of teen pregnancy and a lower chance of graduating from high school as the fall-out from lack of a permanent home.

"We beef up the foster care system,” she says. “We beef up the support of foster parents. We limit the long-term use of foster care – as a way to improve outcomes for kids."

Feild says nearly 40 percent of children in foster care wait more than three years to find a permanent family. Some never do and age out of the system.

The Casey Foundation has shared its recommendations with Congressional leaders.

Feild says the new model is facing resistance, mainly because there would be changes in funding – including cuts.




Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID