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Report: Ohio Foster Kids Benefit from Safe, Nurturing Families

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PHOTO: A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation highlights the importance of keeping children in a family-type setting when they cannot safely remain with a parent. Photo credit: Scott Liddell/morguefile.
PHOTO: A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation highlights the importance of keeping children in a family-type setting when they cannot safely remain with a parent. Photo credit: Scott Liddell/morguefile.
 By Mary KuhlmanContact
May 19, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio - When a child cannot remain with his or her own family, foster care can provide a safe, nurturing environment. A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds about 1,800 or 14 percent of children placed out-of-home in Ohio are not living with a family, but in group placement.

Renuka Mayadev, executive director, Children's Defense Fund Ohio, says there are clear benefits to ensuring more foster kids have the love and support of a family.

"Research shows children fare better in families, throughout their childhood," she says. "But more importantly it makes them better parents one day."

She says group placements are also costly for taxpayers almost seven to 10 times more expensive than kinship or foster care.

The report recommends strategies for states to help keep children in families including strengthening the pool of potential foster and adoptive families and requiring substantial justification before young people are sent to group placements.

According to the report, there are no documented behavioral or clinical reasons for the placement of 40 percent of children in group facilities. But if their situation does warrant time in a residential setting, Mayadev says it's crucial their stay focuses on family first.

"We need to make sure we keep those as short as possible," she says. "That we're always striving to find either kinship care or looking for a foster family because those are two more positive settings for young people."

She adds, public and private agencies can collaborate to place children in family settings. In Ohio, the Dave Thomas Foundation provides child recruitment grants that target the longest waiting children in foster care.

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