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Report: Every Kid Needs A Family

PHOTO: A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows kids in crisis do better in a family setting. Photo credit: Jerry Oster.
PHOTO: A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows kids in crisis do better in a family setting. Photo credit: Jerry Oster.
May 19, 2015

VERMILLION, S.D. - A report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation says that in tough times, kids do better in families, and have the best chance for success in life.

The report, "Every Kid Needs a Family: Giving Children in the Child Welfare System the Best Chance for Success," highlights sobering statistics that point to the urgent need to ensure, through sound policies and proven practices, that everything possible is being done to find loving, nurturing and supportive families to help raise more of these children.

Carole Cochran, project director with South Dakota Kids Count, says kids thrive in a stable environment.

"Really, the best place for a child is with a family, and if that's possible, to work with families so the child can stay there," says Cochran.

The report shows of the 1,265 children removed from their homes in South Dakota, 80 were in a family placement, with 20 in a non-family setting.

Cochran says while families should be the first choice, sometimes relatives could step in.

"The next option would be to look at kinship care," she says. "If the child can't remain with their birth parents, perhaps some relatives could step up and provide a safe environment for the child. After that, perhaps foster care is another good option for the child because of safety concerns in the family or something like that."

Cochran says group settings should be a last choice.

"Certainly group placements are a lot more expensive over the long term," she says. "Kids just don't do well in those type of settings so there might be problems with kids later on as they transition into adulthood. Yeah, it is all of that."

The report points how policy can be improved by increasing service options, strengthening the pool of families and keeping residential treatment short.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD