How Science Can Help Us Measure and Improve the Well-Being of Foster Youth

The three key goals of child welfare policy in the United States are the child’s safety, permanency and well-being. Of these three goals, the child’s well-being often seems to be the most elusive goal. Class action lawsuits filed in several states — including Texas, South Carolina, and most recently, Arizona — demonstrate the depth of concern about how we care for children who cannot live safely at home. The nation’s overwhelmed systems for the care and protection of abused and neglected children are not well equipped to promote the healthy development of these most vulnerable children.

The federal government does set standards for how well states perform this important task. From 2009 to 2012, states improved their performance on the two safety-related child welfare outcomes monitored by the federal government. The rate of maltreatment in foster care dropped to about 0.3 percent. That’s lower than the rate of about 0.9 percent in the general population, although it still represents about 2,000 children who were supposed to be kept safe while under the protection of the states due to maltreatment at home.

Unfortunately, while child welfare data systems do track where foster kids are —> Read More Here


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