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Jared Kushner is finally granted his security clearance. Also on our nationwide rundown: A new lawsuit seeks the release of a gay man from ICE detention in Pennsylvania; and protecting an Arizona water source for millions near Phoenix.

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Arizona Aims to Help Kids in Foster Care Live More Normal Lives

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation makes recommendations to help states improve the lives of children in foster care. (deegolden/morguefile)
A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation makes recommendations to help states improve the lives of children in foster care. (deegolden/morguefile)
December 18, 2015

PHOENIX - Children in foster care need to have the same kinds of life experiences as do other kids to increase their sense of belonging and to succeed as adults, according to new research.

A report from the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, part of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, is designed to help state agencies implement a 2014 federal law to strengthen families by making the lives of children in foster care a bit more normal.

Beth Rosenberg, director of Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice for the Children's Action Alliance, said that in addition to working with staff and foster parents to implement the new federal guidelines, they also are getting former foster children involved.

"The Children's Action Alliance has an initiative called Fostering Advocates Arizona," she said, "where we have youths who are very much involved in helping guide the discussion on normalcy for youths in foster care."

More than 18,000 children are in foster care in Arizona.

Todd Lloyd, a senior policy associate with the Casey Foundation, said the additional freedom allows kids to experience life just as any other child - unlike in the past, when rules made with liability and safety in mind sometimes got in the way of normal activities.

"Can I go after school to study with a friend? Or can I engage in this extracurricular activity? Those are some of the real basic things that many young people in foster care are inhibited from doing," he said.

The report also encouraged states to reduce the use of group placements, be more rigorous in selecting and training foster parents, and give children age 14 and older greater input into their own case planning.

The report is online at aecf.org.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ