Change practices and incentives so that children and young people are not removed from their families and placed in foster care, group homes, residential treatment centers, youth prisons or detention centers or other types of congregate care.
In some cases – due to things like parental drug use or neglect, involvement in the juvenile justice system or behavioral challenges – children are removed from their homes and families and placed in out-of-home placements like youth prisons / detention centers, residential treatment or mental institutions.
Many communities require government agencies to use the “least restrictive alternative," yet maintain an institutional bias for young people with complex needs. Placement out of the home still occurs too often, despite evidence that removal from one’s family is traumatizing, expensive, and leads to other poor outcomes later in life, including diminished resilience. Worse, youth often languish in congregate care facilities much longer than necessary.
While fewer kids are in institutional settings today than in recent years, communities can reduce their use of institutional placement and family separation even more aggressively through implementing community-based programs with capacity to provide intensive support to families in need.
Capture savings from reducing out-of-home placements and redirect them to community-based programs.
Create a continuum of family-focused, neighborhood based, flexible, individualized services that include services for youth and families most at risk of separation.
Implement culturally competent community-based programs for youth of color to achieve greater racial equity.
Redefine public safety as something characterized by safe places in the community that provide the opportunity for positive connection, growth, health and play.
Connect young people to the services supports and adults that help them improve their social and economic mobility and realize their goals.