Cutting back on the use of group homes in the U.S.

Written by: Serenity Henderson April 16, 2021

Back in the day, they called orphanages, a place for kids who had nowhere else to go. Today, they’re called “group homes,” and while their use has decreased over the years, they’re still very much a part of the U.S. child welfare system: 1 in 7 foster children lives in an institutional setting.

Back in 2016 More than 56,000 children in child welfare systems were living in group settings. Many argue children have more success when placed in family settings from the start, and that defaulting to group settings is a troubling practice. Aside lacking in adequate support for children in care, group homes also make little financial sense. Group settings are about seven to 10 times more expensive per child than placement with a family. However the one major obstacle when it comes to getting children out of group care is that there are rarely enough foster families to achieve that goal.

Recognizing that children fare best when they’re living at home with a family, child welfare officials have pushed to minimize the use of group homes. The Family First Prevention Services Act, signed into law in February, caps federal funding for group homes for the first time. Previously, there were no limits, child welfare experts say. Now, the federal government won’t pay for a child to stay in a group home longer than two weeks. Exceptions would be made for teens who are pregnant or parenting and children in residential treatment programs offering round-the-clock care.

Carroll Schroeder, executive director of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, which advocates for child welfare agencies in the state. Says most child welfare officials believe that residential care should be reserved only for those youth whose needs for care and treatment cannot be met safely and effectively in a family setting. “Our goal shouldn’t be to increase the number of good institutions,” he said. “But to increase the number of good foster families.” Denise Goodman, a child welfare professional and consultant with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, adds that there’s often a dependency on group homes for teenagers in particular, because “not enough people want to step up for teens.”

What you can do to help is to become a foster parent. Kids excell better when they have parents who can properly take care and guide them. Often times in group homes there are one or two adults who have to manage possibly over 20 kids. In that circumstance it is impossible for a child to get one on one intamite parenting. A group home setting is more like a class room setting then a home.

Fostering can be a long, hard, yet very rewarding journey. Make sure you dont rush the process. Having a supporting agency by your side will make it easier for you to take on such a responsibility. Each child needs and has the right to grow up protected from misuse and disregard, and caring foster parents offer kids support and dependability when they need it most. At Family Services of America, we spend a significant amount of time in personalizing plans for all children admitted into our services to get them ready for their next transition. We cooperate with our foster parents to provide services, including therapeutic foster care, adoption and outpatient Services. Quality care and services you can trust. Contact us today on how you can become a foster parent. ,


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