Monday, June 05, 2006

Foster Care

An ABC/Time magazine poll reveals substantial concern for state foster care systems and public support for reforms to the system. According to the poll, nearly half of Americans feel the system isn’t doing enough for the vulnerable children living in foster care. Generations United and other groups have highlighted the fact that many children in foster are being taken care of by grandparents and relatives but these families don’t have the financial and legal support that other foster care families get. The need for policies like subsidized guardianships for these caregivers could help improve the lives of the more than 20,000 children who live with grandparents and other relatives in foster care.

There are currently more than 500,000 children in our nation’s foster care system. About a quarter of these children live with relative caregivers in grandfamilies. For some of these children, subsidized guardianship could be the only viable option for exiting the system. This option permanently places a child with a grandparent or other relative who can provide a positive and nurturing home environment and becomes the legal guardian. At the same time, the guardian receives financial resources, just as foster families do, that make it possible to provide for the child’s basic needs. In its landmark report, Fostering the Future, the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care recommended that federal guardianship assistance be provided “to all children who leave foster care to live with a permanent legal guardian.”

More than a quarter of the children and youth in foster care are being raised by relatives. For these kids the availability of subsidized guardianship could mean the difference between a safe permanent home and languishing for years in the system.

GU recently released a report titled Every Child Deserves a Loving Home, which provides state by state data on the number of children living in relative foster care. The first of its kind report is available at The report explains that allowing states to use federal Title IV-E foster care funds for subsidized guardianship would make permanent homes possible for thousands of children in need across the U.S.

GU will be co-sponsoring a Capitol Hill briefing on June 8th at 10:00a.m. around one of the biggest reasons for children having to be raised by relatives—substance abuse. The briefing, being held in room 138 of the Dirkson Senate Office Building will focus specifically on the impact of methamphetamines on foster care and highlight recommendations for improving the child welfare system.