Fewer Pennsylvania children are entering the foster care system, and the total number of foster youth in PA is on the decline, according to the 2012 State of Child Welfare report. “This a very important statistic,” says Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children President & CEO Joan Benso. “Children who live in foster care don’t experience the same life outcomes as children who live consistently in families. They tend to have poorer education outcomes; they’re more likely to be teen parents or involved in crime.”
However she sees more work that needs to be done when it comes to permanent placements and stability for the 22,000 children who are in the state’s foster care system. For instance, 35% of children who were in foster care for 12 – 23 months had been in three or more placement settings.
Also, the report finds that 21% of PA’s foster youth live in institutional care. “We’re encouraged that action will be taken on that in the next year, but that number needs to continue to go down. We have a very high rate for children living in congregate care, and much higher than other states.”
This report comes in advance of a legislative session in which the General Assembly is expected to take up the recommendations of the Task Force on Child Protection, and it cautions that protecting children should not be simplified to a numbers game that leads to a false sense of accomplishment.