The overall number of area children in foster care has declined according to the COG 2010 Foster Care Annual Report. The report, which was presented at yesterday’s COG Board meeting, found that in 2010 there were 4,043 children in foster care down from 4,495 in 2008.
“While fewer children are being served in foster care, the ones who remain in our region’s system have more significant needs. These children are more likely to be teenagers, children with special medical needs, and large sibling groups,” said Agnes Leshner, Director of Child Welfare Services for Montgomery County and the Chair of COG's regional Child Welfare Directors Committee.
While the majority of foster children are either reunited with family or adopted, a growing number of children are aging out of the region’s foster care system without finding permanent homes. The report found that between 2008 and 2010 there has been a 27 percent increase in children who ‘age out’ of the system. Child welfare experts say these young people sometimes have trouble navigating through the next phase of their lives and can be at risk for unplanned pregnancies, homelessness, or incarceration. COG’s Child Welfare Committee urges area governments and organizations to provide additional support for these children.
COG’s Child Welfare program plans to focus on older children, who ‘age out’ of the system in the coming year.
For jurisdiction-specific numbers and additional information, click here to download the report.