Washington State's most vulnerable children face incredible obstacles.
As most children in foster care are there through no fault of their own - but rather as a result of abuse or neglect by their parents - they enter the system in an already traumatized state. Due in part to the shortage of foster care homes in Washington, most children who enter into foster care are then subject to multiple placements, each time contributing to the emotional trauma already suffered.
The current system produces the following results and yet we keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results! It is time to make a change.
-74% of incarcerated adults spent time in foster care
-80% of death row inmates spent time in foster care
-50% of girls in foster care are pregnant by age 19
-25% of homeless youth spent time in the foster care system
-Adolescents who had been in foster care are nearly four times more likely to have attempted suicide
-On average, children in foster care move every five months
-Once they are placed, 15% of children in foster care have five or more placements
-Once they are placed, 5% of children in foster care have ten or more placements
-In spite of an increase in the number of children in foster care, the number of licensed foster care homes in Washington dropped from 6,000 to 5,000 since 2009
SETTING UP TO FAIL
No effective orientation exists for the child whose life has been turned upside down - even though we require foster parents, social workers, and everyone else involved in the system to undergo extensive training. Children are thrown into the system with a heavy heart, and a head full of questions and concerns with no preparation.
The instability and uncertainty of the child’s experience in foster care leading up to the first placement sets an adverse tone for how a child will fare in the first foster home placement. One failed placement often leads to more failed placements until a dangerous and damaging pattern of multiple placements is established.
Multiple subsequent placements are not only costly to the system, but costly to the emotional well-being of these children entrusted into the State’s care.
Due to the shortage of licensed foster homes, children are placed with the first available open bed, not necessarily the best possible family. Often times very little is even known about the emotional, psychological, physical, or emotional needs of a child who is new to care. This mismatch will often quickly result in failed first placements which then often result in multiple subsequent placements. .
These vulnerable children can even be initially placed in group facilities along with runaways and youth with severe mental health issues simply because there is nowhere else to temporarily place them.
On average, 42 children enter into foster care each month in King County, Washington.
In the King County area children are in care for an average of about 16 months and on average they moved every five months once they are placed.
Over 15% of the children in care have five or more placements and almost 5% have 10 or more.
25% of the homeless children living on the streets of Seattle are “refugees from the foster care system”.
The number of licensed foster care homes in Washington has declined while the number of children in care has increased. Approximately one out of every 200 children in Washington are involved in out-of-home care with the foster care system.