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Report: Children Do Best Growing Up in Family-Like Setting

PHOTO: A new report from the Annie E. Casey foundation shows strong evidence that children grow up best when they are nourished by strong and supportive relationships with their caregivers. About 13 percent of the 6,500 Wisconsin children in foster care are placed in non-family settings.
PHOTO: A new report from the Annie E. Casey foundation shows strong evidence that children grow up best when they are nourished by strong and supportive relationships with their caregivers. About 13 percent of the 6,500 Wisconsin children in foster care are placed in non-family settings.
May 19, 2015

MADISON, Wis. – Children grow up best when they're in a family-like setting, with strong relationships with their caregivers, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. However, the report says about 13 percent of the 6,500 Wisconsin children in foster care are placed in non-family settings, such as group homes or even correctional facilities.

Jim Moeser, deputy director, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, says one hurdle to jump in helping children is that in Wisconsin, everything happens at the county level.

"It makes it a little trickier, too, both in terms of the resources that are available in different counties," says Moeser. "There's a lot going on at the state level to try and promote relative care and the kinds of services that can support kids in foster families. But the work really has to go on at the county level."

According to the report, Wisconsin fares a bit better than the national average in giving children a chance to grow up in a family-like setting, but Moeser says the state really needs to strengthen its preventive programs to help support families and keep them together, and to better support those who take care of children.

To effect change, and put the odds in favor of Wisconsin children having a chance at growing up in families rather than institutional settings, Moeser says it will take changes in policy and investing more funds in children.

"I think we need to look at ways to provide some additional support in kinship care situations, where family and relatives are taking on kids, and maybe a little extra financial support or some incentive to help them," he says. "I think we need to invest a little more in some preventive resources."

By that, Moeser says he means supporting at-risk families by making sure parents have secure employment and educational opportunities. He points out that there are times when a child may need to be in a residential or group setting, and that's not always a bad thing.

"We certainly have a lot of well-staffed and good group care situations, but really, even in the best of circumstances it's difficult at times to provide the individual attention," Moeser says. "I think really what we want to take from this is the importance of keeping kids in-home when we can, and in family-like settings as much as we can."

The report is online at www.aecf.org.


Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI