The overall number of area children in foster care has declined according to the COG 2012 Foster Care Annual Report. The report, which was presented at Wednesday's COG Board meeting, found that in 2012 there were 3,349 children in foster care throughout the region, down from 4,601 in 2008 – a reduction of 27%. This figure outpaces the national rate of children in foster care, which saw a 20% decline between 2007 and 2011.
This reduction is in tandem with over 1,300 children diverted from entering foster care alone. Of 1,164 exits from foster care, 56% of those cases resulted in family reunification, 22% in guardianships and 22% in adoption.
Aging out of the system, or exiting the system without finding permanent homes through family reunification, guardianship, or adoption, remained steady with only 18 less children aging out of the system in 2012 compared with 2011. 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.
The ultimate goal of foster care is to secure a safe, permanent home for each child. 284 children in foster care were awaiting adoption as of December 31, 2012. This represents a 60% decline in the number of children waiting to be adopted since 2008. Permanent placement of teenagers especially, continues to be a primary goal of COG’s Child Welfare program, while 19 children, 16 years old or older, were adopted in 2012. COG’s Child Welfare Committee urges area governments and organizations to provide additional support for these children.
For jurisdiction-specific numbers and additional information, click here to download the report.
In May, COG honored outstanding foster parents for their commitment to foster sons and daughters as well as to the children’s birth families. Click here to learn more about these families. Let us know if you would like to contact them.