*Photo credit: The Annie E. Casey Foundation
When KVC began providing foster care case management services for the state of Kansas in 1996, 30% of Kansas children in state custody were living in congregate care placements such as group homes. Yet research shows that growing up in a family environment — for example, being supported by a caring foster family — is a much healthier situation for children and adolescents than group homes. Today, thanks to the innovative and hard work of KVC and other partners, that number has significantly and safely dropped to 5% in Kansas (and an even lower 4% in the 30 Eastern counties served by KVC).
In its latest KIDS COUNT policy report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranked Kansas as one of the top five states that keeps family placements high and group placements low (93% in family placements; 5% in group placements; 1% in other placements*). KVC continues to be responsible for more than half of all children served by the state child welfare system, and places a high priority on caring for children in the context of relative, familiar kin or foster families as opposed to group homes.
The national average for U.S. children in state custody living in congregate care is 14%. While KVC recognizes that residential services are necessary for some children who need intensive treatment, group homes should not be considered an ongoing living situation. Several other states including Montana, New Jersey and North Carolina, are working to reduce their reliance on placing children in state custody in congregate care and increasing their community-based services.
To learn more about KVC’s work in Kansas, check out our blog: Children Grow Best in Families: Moving from Congregate Care to Community-Based Care.
(Note: Percentages do not add up to 100 percent because of rounding in the report. “Other” placements include runaways and supervised independent living.)