X

REDUCE OUT-OF-HOME PLACEMENTS

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.

Every child needs a safe place to live.

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.

  • 433,201 children were removed from their families and placed in some type of foster home setting, including congregate care
    Source, Childrens Defense Fund, The State of America's Children, 2017
  • 47,303 young people are in some type of local, state or private congregate care setting - residential treatment center, detention center of youth prison - due to involvement in the juvenile justice system
    Source: OJJDP Census of Residential Placement, 2015
Bright Spots are examples of how high-need youth have been safely and successfully supported in their homes and with their families in jurisdictions around the country. Consider these stories from around the nation:
  • Coming Soon
  • Coming Soon

REDIRECT DOLLARS

Capture savings from reducing out-of-home placements and redirect them to community-based programs.

Every taxpayer deserves for their dollars to be spent wisely

Most states and local government agencies with the authority to remove a young person from their home devote the majority of their budgets to institutional placements and a small portion to community-based programs.
These investments in out-of-home and institutional placements, such as shelters, detention centers, state correctional facilities and residential treatment centers drain the community of dollars to fund community-based programs and supports that can benefit all members of the community – whether involved in systems or not. Many young people in out-of-home placements return their neighborhoods to find food deserts, youth development deserts, job opportunity deserts and health deserts.
Redirecting dollars away from divestment in communities and towards investment in communities means that families who need intensive, tailored supports in their homes can receive it, and taxpayers will pay less and benefit more.
  • States devote the largest share of their juvenile justice resources to youth confinement and spend a very small portion of their budgets on non-residential community-based programs. For example, in its 2015 Data Resource Guide, the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice noted that the commonwealth spends only 3.4% of its total budget on community-based programs.
    Source: Beyond Bars
  • Gaps in the behavioral health system of care lead to an over-reliance on costly inpatient and residential treatment, rather than utilization of more cost-effective home and community-based services. At nearly $29,000 per child, residential care constitutes the highest average expense among all behavioral health services.
    Source: Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. (2014)
"Bright Spots" are examples of high-need youth being safely and successfully supported in their homes and with their families in jurisdictions around the country. Consider these stories from around the nation:

EXPAND COMMUNITY-BASED ALTERNATIVES

Create a continuum of family-focused, neighborhood based, flexible, individualized services that include services for youth and families most at risk of separation.

Every young person should have access to what they need to thrive

Youth with very complex needs should not be placed out of the home simply because the services they need do not exist in their communities.
While no one program, service or support can meet the wide array of youth and family needs, each community can map its assets (resources, strengths) and challenges (needs, gaps in services) to develop a continuum of care that meets the needs of all community members, including youth and families at greatest risk of being separated and placed out of the home.
These services should be:
  • Accessible, coordinated, accountable, individualized, family-focused, strength-based, culturally competent, and be youth and family-driven.
  • As intensive as necessary, flexible, creative adaptable to changing needs and circumstances.
  • Opportunities for young people to give back to their communities as a means to recognize their gifts.
  • Coordinated through multiple public systems.
  • Stat 1
  • Stat 2
"Bright Spots" are examples of high-need youth being safely and successfully supported in their homes and with their families in jurisdictions around the country. Consider these stories from around the nation:

REDUCE RACIAL AND ETHNIC DISPARITIES

Implement culturally competent community-based programs for youth of color to achieve greater racial equity.

Every young person deserves to be treated fairly

Data shows that youth of color are treated differently, more severely and are more likely to be separated from their families in every system. Even as trends have led to fewer young people placed out of their homes, disparate treatment of youth of color persists.
Treating young people of color differently in these systems in vested in our country’s history.
One very direct way to eliminate the disparity and reduce the number of institutionalized youth of color is to implement culturally competent programs. Program staff who live in the youth’s communities are familiar with the challenges and strengths of the community and are far more likely to relate to and connect with the youth and their family and understand social mores. This approach returns power back to the community and affirms different cultural experiences.
  • In 22 states, the percent of black children in foster care is TWO TIMES the percent of black children in the overall child population
    Source, Children's Defense Fund, The State of America's Children, 2017
  • Nearly a fifth of disconnected black boys and young men are institutionalized.
    Source: More than a Million Reasons to Hope
"Bright Spots" are examples of high-need youth being safely and successfully supported in their homes and with their families in jurisdictions around the country. Consider these stories from around the nation:
  • Bright Spot 1
  • Bright Spot 2

IMPROVE COMMUNITY SAFETY

Redefine public safety as something characterized by safe places in the community that provide the opportunity for positive connection, growth, health and play.

Everyone deserves to live in a safe community.

When we think about safe communities, opportunities to enjoy green spaces, go for a walk or get safely to and from school come to mind. In too many communities though, public safety is defined by the presence of police and other law enforcement strategies. Increasing public safety for these communities means transforming them from places that need police intervention to safe places where young people can engage in play, explore their strengths and interests and neighbors can be in community with one another.
We can realize safer communities through investments in community programs, including programs that give residents the opportunity to contribute to the betterment of their neighborhoods, like community gardens, farmers markets and neighborhood beautification. Other examples of ways to improve community safety include mentoring programs, engagement with Departments of Parks and Recreation and programs designed to meet the strengths, interests and needs of young people in the community, including those with complex needs.
  • "In a given city with 100,000 people, we found that every new organization formed to confront violence and build stronger neighborhoods led to about a 1 percent drop in violent crime and murder…the explosion of community organizations that took place in the 1990s likely played a substantial role in explaining the decline in violence."
    Source: Uneasy Peace, by Patrick Sharkey
"Bright Spots" are examples of high-need youth being safely and successfully supported in their homes and with their families in jurisdictions around the country. Consider these stories from around the nation:
  • Bright Spot 1
  • Bright Spot 2
  • Coming Soon
  • Coming Soon

INCREASE SUCCESSFUL OUTCOMES FOR YOUTH

Connect young people to the services supports and adults that help them improve their social and economic mobility and realize their goals.

Everyone benefits when young people do well.

Whether young people succeed is determined by many factors, including community resources, family stability and access to resources and opportunities. Young people’s success elevates all of us, but no one achieves success in isolation.
To succeed, young people need what we all need: to achieve competency, autonomy and a sense of belonging. They can achieve this by having access to information about pathways to careers and labor market information that will help them and to quality education, safe homes and places to recreate with their friends, connections to caring adults who can help them navigate through difficult challenges or uncertain times and community-based services that help them identify and develop their strengths and address challenges.
  • Stat 1
  • Stat 2
"Bright Spots" are examples of high-need youth being safely and successfully supported in their homes and with their families in jurisdictions around the country. Consider these stories from around the nation:
  • Bright Spot 1
  • Bright Spot 2