By Roz Brown, Public News Service
April 4, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE – When it comes to placing foster children with families, New Mexico is doing better than most states across the country.

A new report looks at data from child-welfare systems across all 50 states and the District of Columbia over a 10-year period, to monitor changes in placements for young people in foster care.

It found that care systems nationwide placed 86% of foster children in family settings in 2017, up from 81% in 2007.

The number was even higher in New Mexico, said Paige Knight, research and policy analyst with New Mexico Voices for Children: “New Mexico is one of 16 states and the District of Columbia to place 90% or more of young people in families in 2017.”

However, despite improvements in the past 10 years, the placement rate for teens has remained stagnant, and there are persistent racial disparities for children of all ages in foster care.

The report, Keeping Kids in Families: Trends in U.S. Foster Care Placement, is a data snapshot released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of its KIDS COUNT project.

Rob Geen, director of policy and advocacy reform for the Casey Foundation, added that placing foster children with relatives typically leads to a better outcome.

“When children are placed with relatives, they’re more likely to finish school, they’re more likely to be employed or find employment later, they’re less likely to become early parents,” he said.

Knight noted that a new federal law, the Family First Prevention Services Act, provides opportunities for states to ensure that children are in homes that best address their needs, and that their caregivers are supported.

“Children do best in families, and being part of a family is a human need and essential to well-being,” she said. “So, we’ll be really prioritizing finding foster homes, both relative and non-relative, for these youths that are still being sent to group homes or institutions.”

Like many other states, Knight said New Mexico’s African-American children are the least likely to be placed with families.

Copyright 2019, Public News Service ([/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]