Why We Need the Safely Home Campaign

  • Too many kids live away from home or are not living in safe communities.
  • Poor and minority youth are overrepresented in out-of-home placements and unsafe communities.
  • LGBTQ youth face unique challenges that put them at elevated risk of placement in out-of-home placements or homelessness.
  • Too many youth are aging out of care without permanent connections.
  • Kids do better and achieve better outcomes when they are valuable parts of their families and seen as assets in their own communities.
  • Investing in keeping kids safely home with the support they need is also a wiser long-term investment of scarce resources.
  • When communities invest in the most marginalized families, community safety increases.
  • Programs that prioritize cultural competence can help the most marginalized youth who face discrimination, including LGBTQ youth.
In 2011, over 400,000 kids in the child welfare system lived away from their families in foster care, group homes, residential facilities or other out-of-home placements. In some states as many as 39% of the child welfare population live in residential and group homes. Older youth who live in group and residential homes are more likely than younger youth to age out of foster care without having ever reconnected to their families. They will leave institutional placement and be reintegrated with little support, jeopardizing their safety and their futures.
On any given day, more than 61,000 youth are incarcerated in the U.S. at great social and economic costs to communities and families. Consider these statistics from the Justice Policy Institute Report, The Cost of Confinement:

"States spent about $5.7 billion in 2007 to imprison 64,558 youth committed to residential facilities. The per diem costs of locking up one young person in a juvenile facility ranges from $24 in Wyoming to $726 in Connecticut, but the American Correctional Association estimates that, on average, it costs states $240.99 per day -- around $88,000 a year -- for every youth in a juvenile facility. Reporting states spent an average of $7.1 million per day locking up youth in residential facilities."
The most marginalized youth face the most serious consequences by public systems and are often denied the opportunities they need to get on a path to success. Many laudable reform efforts to strengthen communities and build support for at-risk youth explicitly leave out the highest risk and most marginalized youth, or the “bad apples.” However, these youth can stay safely at home if they have access to the right resources such as; intensive, in home and individualized, family focused services, substance abuse treatment, in home mental health services, alternative education programs, vocational training, job preparation and placement, youth leadership and parent/guardian support programs, recreation and cultural activities, all provided in a holistic, accessible and coordinated and flexible fashion. Supporting the highest risk youth in their homes can have a powerful and positive impact on other youth in their communities.

Youth at the Center of the Safely Home Campaign

On any given day in the United States over 500,000 youth live away from home, separated from their families and communities. They are the youth with the most complex needs who cannot get the services they need in their home environments without support, and who systems send away from their homes in an attempt to meet those needs. 

Thousands more at-risk youth live at home, but in unsafe communities, where gun violence turns whole neighborhoods into war zones. Many of the youth we want to bring safely home will return to these communities.  Consequently, we are also invested in making communities safer, so youth can return or remain, safely home.

The kids at the heart of the Safely Home Campaign are likely to have been through multiple agencies where their needs were not met, they were rejected for services due to the complexity of their needs or people gave up on them.

Far too many of the youth we want to bring or keep safely home are:

  • Victims of an institutional bias that favors sending youth away based on a belief that their needs cannot be met in their communities of origin.
  • Minority youth overrepresented in institutions across systems.
  • Populations with long histories as victims of systemic discriminations such as racial or ethnic minorities and youth with behavioral health challenges.
  • "Throwaway kids," the 5% of youth frequently blamed for causing 95% of the problems.
  • Youth with complex needs stemming from extreme poverty that cannot be met with single intervention services.
  • Disconnected from work or school with no plans to reconnect.
  • Child victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Gang-involved youth.
  • Young people with intellectual or developmental disabilities frequently placed outside the home due to challenges in providing adequate support for families that care for them.
The number of youth who live in out-of-home placements, away from their families and communities is too high.

  • Over 400,000 youth have been removed from their homes and are living in residential homes or in foster care, away from their families and communities.
  • On any given day, more than 70,000 youth are incarcerated in the US.
  • Over 6.7 million youth are disconnected from school or work, resulting in $65.8 billion in lost earnings every year.
  • Minority youth are overrepresented in out-of-home placements, representing 42% of the US youth population, but 57% of all youth in foster care and 66% of incarcerated youth. African American youth make up 15% of the US youth population but 34% of children in foster care and 60% of incarcerated youth.
  • For each youth in institutional placement, 3-6 youth can be served effectively and safely while living at home with their families in their home communities.
Likewise, the number of youth who currently live in unsafe communities is also too high. Many of the youth we want to bring home are at risk of returning to unsafe communities.

  • In 2010, nearly 4,000 young adults aged 10-24 were killed by gun violence.
  • Minority youth are victims of violence at an alarmingly disproportionate rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Among 10 to 24 year-olds, homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans; the second leading cause of death for Hispanics; and the third leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives.”
  • Youth homicides and injuries caused by violence result in annual loss of $16 billion dollars in medical and lost work costs.


Black youth represent 60% of the incarcerated youth and 34% of the child welfare population, but only 15% of the population generally



More than 400,000 children in the child welfare system live in out-of-home placements



On any given day, more than 61,000 youth are incarcerated in the US