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Connecticut Setting Trend in Foster-Care Placement

New research confirms that placing children in kinship care with grandparents or other family members improves outcomes. (Aline Dassel/Pixabay)
New research confirms that placing children in kinship care with grandparents or other family members improves outcomes. (Aline Dassel/Pixabay)
April 4, 2019

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut is making great progress in placing foster children in family settings and kinship care, according to a new report.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's report, Keeping Kids in Families, shows between 2007 and 2017, the percentage of Connecticut foster children placed in family settings rose from 73% to 87%, compared with a five-percentage-point increase in the nation as a whole.

According to Sheryl Horowitz, research and evaluation officer for the
Connecticut Association for Human Services
, this is due in part to a law that now requires any child placement outside the family to be individually reviewed and approved by the director of child welfare.

"They were able to slash the group-placement rate from 26% to 10% over this ten-year period," said Horowitz. "And for teens, which are the most difficult to place, they were able to slash it from 46% to 23%."

The federal Family First Prevention Services Act, which became law last year, instituted national reforms to help ensure that children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like settings.

Rob Geen, director of policy and advocacy reform for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says placing children with grandparents or other relatives they already know and trust produces the best outcomes.

"They're more likely to finish school, they're more likely to be employed or find employment later, they're less likely to become early parents," Geen explains. "That is one trend which is really important – we're using relatives more."

Nationally, although most children are still placed with foster families they aren't related to, placements with kin rose by seven percentage points, to 32% over the ten years.

Although the research shows Connecticut has made real progress, Horowitz notes there is more that can be done, such as doing more to engage families in the decision-making process.

"Kin and foster parents should be treated as important members of the team, and that kind of on-the-ground engagement is shown to be a very effective strategy," she adds.

Some states – including Alaska, Nevada and Washington – already are placing 90% or more of foster children in family settings.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT