In 1988 President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May as National Foster Care Month as a way to recognize foster parents for opening their homes to and caring for children in need. This annual celebration has grown to generate awareness of foster care and a recognition of all involved. The children, foster parents, state and local government employees, private child caring providers, and the community at large are all important parts of the effort.
We have come a long way since 1988. Today there are more than 400,000 youth in foster care in the U.S., which represents a staggering 25% reduction in the just the past 10 years. In addition to the decrease in the number of children in foster care, we have the average length of stay has shrunk from 33 to 24 months.
This is a reflection of the sacrifice, dedication, and compassion of so many who have made working with foster youth their life’s mission. We also have to thank the many relatives that willingly accepted the additional burden of responsibility to love and nurture immediate and distant relatives. All involved in giving a young person hope and providing them with an opportunity to be successful in life are to be applauded.
Although there have been many improvements and successes, there is much work to be done to insure child safety and well-being for all youth. We must continue to innovate and seek out solutions that not only reduce the number of youth in foster care but focus on the quality of care for foster youth. The goal is to quickly place them in safe, stable, permanent situations.
The demand for loving families to accept the challenge to foster and/or adopt remains high. It has often been stated that if one family from each church in a state would adopt one child there would be no children awaiting permanent placement. Or, imagine the impact it would have if one family from each neighborhood in the United States became foster parents. What happened to the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child”?
The SAS State and Local Government practice is committed to working with state and local leaders to innovate and change the lives of children involved in the foster care system. We believe data and analysis can help those striving to find the most positive outcomes for kids, and we are dedicated to bringing awareness and support to this critical issue.
Our bloggers will continue to write about the different ways analytics could help at-risk kids. We would love to hear your thoughts on these topics and welcome comments.