Contact: Charles Siler
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: WHILE FOSTER CARE IS FAILING KIDS, NEW PROGRAM OFFERS HOPE AND RESULTS
SAFE FAMILIES COMMUNITIES SAVE FAMILIES IN CRISIS
State foster care programs are supposed to create a safe haven for children in need, providing a stable environment that shields them from abuse or enables their families to resolve temporary issues, but overloaded state systems are failing our most vulnerable children. Children who have any contact with foster care are far more likely than their peers to struggle, but there is an awesome opportunity for communities to step up and help in a proven way, says a report released today by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA).
The outlook for foster children is often bleak, even for those who spend just a short time in foster care. The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates 60 percent of the children they rescue from sex trafficking had prior contact with foster care, and states as far apart as New York and California are finding the same thing. But the tragedy goes beyond the criminal, with only 50 percent of all foster kids graduating high school by the age of 18, and 40 percent of those who age out of foster care ending up homeless.
While foster care is an important pillar in our commitment to protect our children, many agencies and social workers are burdened with huge and unmanageable caseloads, leaving children exposed. Safe Families for Children, a program designed to empower community organizations to connect trained and vetted host families with families experiencing a temporary crisis promises to lighten this load while offering essential preventative support.
“Many struggling parents don’t raise their hands to say they need help because they’re more afraid of losing their children into the system than they are of bringing their kids through temporary homelessness or addiction recovery, and that’s a huge problem,” said Tarren Bragdon, CEO of the FGA.
“We need to be encouraging people to feel comfortable turning to their communities when they need help, or before they need help. It makes a huge difference when you can address a situation early and deal with it before it spirals out of control and tears a family apart.”
Safe Families gives parents the support they need to make it through a tough situation by providing temporary care for children in a safe and loving home while allowing parents to retain full parental rights as they work toward improving life for their family. This model has been used since 2002, when it was started in Chicago, and more than 20,000 placements have taken place since then with 90 percent of the children being successfully reunited with their families. Barely 50 percent of children in foster care are ever reunited with their families.
Since the Safe Families model relies on early intervention, it’s critically important that states create a legal environment where families can feel comfortable coming forward with their problems. That means local departments and agencies should look to Safe Families as another tool for helping families in need, rather than a new version of foster care. For this program of community support to continue being successful and growing to every state, it’s critical that Safe Families is treated as the unique program it is.
To read about families helped through this unique program and other related stories, click here. To read about recent polling showing overwhelming public support for the Safe Families model, click here. The FGA report outlining the issues with foster care and the proven Safe Families method can be read here.
To schedule an interview, please contact Charles Siler with the Foundation for Government Accountability at (202) 487-8652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.