R A N K I N G Which State Child Welfare Systems Are Right for Kids?

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1 2012 R A N K I N G Which State Child Welfare Systems Are Right for Kids? Published by the Foundation for Government Accountability 2012 Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 1

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3 R A N K I N G Which State Child Welfare Systems Are Right for Kids? 2012 Tarren Bragdon Chief Executive Officer F O U N D A T I O N F O R G OVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY

4 Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

5 R I G H T F O R K I D S R A N K I N G 2012 Contents Executive Summary...6 Doing Right For Kids Good Social Policy, Good Economic Policy... 7 Five Key Findings From The 2012 Right For Kids Ranking... 8 The Best And Worst Which States Are Right For Kids?... 9 What If All States Performed Like The Top 10 Right For Kids States? Right For Kids Ranking vs Right For Kids Ranking Sub Rankings The Best And Worst States For Each Of The 11 Outcome Areas Outcome 1- Reduce Abuse Outcome 2 - Reduce Abuse In Foster Care Outcome 3 - Permanent Families, Safe Homes Outcome 4 - Return Home Quickly And Safely Outcome 5 - Forever Families ASAP Outcome 6 - Here Today... And Tomorrow Outcome 7 - Hope And Homes For Teens Outcome 8 - Fostering A Good Education Outcome 9 - Fewer Foster Kids Outcome 10 - Rapid Response Outcome 11 - More Forever Families Ranking Methodology Detailed Outcomes Summary Table Spending Versus Performance - Is Money The Answer? Foster Care Spending Per State Strengths And Limitations New Opportunities For States And Kids About The Foundation For Government Accountability About The Author Tarren Bragdon References Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 5

6 E x e c u t i v e S u m m a r y Each state s child welfare system typically operates out of the public eye unless a tragedy, often the death a child, pulls the system from the shadows to the front page. It should not be this way. Protecting children from abuse and neglect is a fundamental responsibility of a civil society. Yet, the average American, and even most policymakers and members of the media, has little understanding of how their state s child welfare system performs. The annual RIGHT FOR KIDS RANKING provides the hard facts about how well states are serving vulnerable kids. The RIGHT FOR KIDS RANKING and the companion RightForKids.org Web site answers basic questions like: Which states are doing the best job overall in serving children who are abused and neglected? And more focused questions like: Which states are best serving teenagers in foster care by helping them move on to permanency and stability? The 2012 RIGHT FOR KIDS RANKING shows which states are best and worst at this tough but critical job, using a methodology that scores all states in 11 key outcome areas and 41 different data measures. This comprehensive list is the first of its kind. The five major findings from this year s RIGHT FOR KIDS RANKING are: 1. Only 11 states have a 24-hour rapid response to investigate claims of abuse or neglect. 2. Only 12 states visit the vast majority of foster kids monthly. 3. Only 9 states quickly and safely return foster children home to their biological families when possible. 4. Only 9 states ensure short and stable stays in foster care as general practice. 5. Only 11 states help find forever families ASAP for a large share of foster children. Americans, most importantly abused and neglected kids, pay a significant price as a result of some states doing a much worse job than others. What if all states performed at the level of the Top 10 Right for Kids States? If that happened: 1. There would be 72,000 fewer kids in foster care (17% fewer). 2. There would be almost 19,000 more adoptions from foster care each year (36% more). Helping kids is not just good social policy. It is good economic policy as well. Child abuse and neglect costs more than $100 billion every year in direct ($33 billion) and indirect ($71 billion) costs. This annual ranking is a reality check on how well each state is serving the most vulnerable children, and celebrates top performing states overall and in specific outcome areas. These bright spots can lead by example, and highlight successful public policies, funding structures, and leadership to best serve kids. Understanding why a state ranks where it does is the first step toward positive, pro-active reforms. Learn more about how your state performs by reading this report and state specific profiles at RightForKids.org Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

7 D o i n g R i g h t f o r K i d s G o o d S o c i a l P o l i c y, G o o d E c o n o m i c P o l i c y It happens. Children in America die from abuse and neglect. It happens 1,770 times a year almost five times every day. 1 When these tragedies occur questions are asked and fingers are pointed. The state s child welfare system becomes front page news. Such tragedies rightly force the media, policymakers and the public to ask tough questions about how well a state s child welfare system protects kids, reduces abuse, supports families, and moves abused kids to safe and permanent families and ultimately toward a better life. A child should not have to die to force these questions. Policymakers, child advocates, the media and the public have a right to know: Which states are doing the best job overall in serving children who are abused and neglected? Which states are quickest to investigate allegations of abuse? Which states are best at reducing the amount of time children spend in foster care? Which states have increased the number of children moving from foster care to adoptive families? Which states are best at supporting foster children safely returning back to their biological families? Which states are best at serving teenagers in care by helping them move on to permanency and stability? Which states are reducing the number of foster homes that kids in foster care are placed into? Which states are reducing the rate of child abuse and neglect? Simply put, a top performing child welfare system should respond quickly to allegations of abuse, ensure that kids who are abused are transitioned to a safe and permanent home as quickly as possible (whether through successful reunification or adoption), guarantee that children in out-of-home placements are in safe and supportive home-like settings (foster care or kinship care) with as few placements as possible, and reduce the overall incidence of abuse and, subsequently, the number of children in need of foster care. The Foundation for Government Accountability publishes the RIGHT FOR KIDS RANKING to comprehensively and holistically rate the child welfare systems of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This annual ranking is the first of its kind. It measures each state s job performance in serving the most vulnerable kids, and identifies the leader states we can look to for inspiration and advice. Helping kids is not just good social policy. It is good economic policy as well. Child abuse and neglect costs more than $100 billion every year in direct ($33 billion) and indirect ($71 billion) costs. 2 According to numerous studies, abused and neglected children are more likely to experience the following during their lifetime: poor physical health, poor emotional health, social difficulties, cognitive dysfunction, high-risk health behaviors, and behavioral problems. The direct costs of child abuse and neglect are more obvious: hospitalization from abuse ($6.6 billion), mental health services ($1 billion), child welfare services ($25.4 billion), and law enforcement ($33 million). But there are also several indirect costs of child abuse and neglect: special education ($2.4 billion), juvenile delinquency ($7.2 billion), mental health and health care ($67 million), adult criminal justice spending ($28 billion), and lost productivity ($33 billion). This total cost is eight times greater than the total $12.6 billion reported state and federal Title IV-E spending for Foster Care ($8.4 billion) and Adoption Assistance ($4.1 billion) in fiscal year What is immeasurable is the cost to the life of the abused child. As a society, we need to reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect and improve outcomes in state child welfare systems not because it is good fiscal policy, but first and foremost because it is the right and just thing to do in a civil society Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 7

8 F i v e K e y F i n d i n g s f r o m t h e R i g h t F o r K i d s R a n k i n g 1. Only 11 states have a 24-hour rapid response to investigate claims of abuse or neglect. The average time between receiving a report of abuse or neglect and launching an investigation is less than 24 hours in the following 11 states: Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee and Wyoming. Unbelievably, 13 states take longer than 120 hours (5 days) to respond. For a vulnerable child, this could mean another five days of abuse because of bureaucratic delay. It could also mean the difference between life and death. 2. Only 12 states visit the vast majority of foster kids monthly. Caseworker visits are critical to ensure the safety of the child in foster care and to support the foster parents serving the child. 12 states prioritize foster family accountability and safety with monthly visits to at least 85% of foster children. They are: Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah. 3. Only 9 states quickly and safely return foster children home to their biological families when possible. Just 13 states, on average, reunify foster children with their biological families within 12 months. Too many states take too long to reunify, even though reunification is in the best interest of the children. In these states kids languish in foster care likely longer than they need. 38 states, on average, have fewer than 15% (about 1 in 7) of reunified foster children re-enter foster care within 12 months (presumably because of continued abuse and neglect). Most reunifications are successful. Only 9 states accomplish both fewer than 12 months on average to reunify with an 85%+ success rate. These states are: Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming. 4. Only 9 states ensure short and stable stays in foster care as a general practice. Only 14 states have children remain in foster care 12 months or less, on average. 27 states have 85% or more of children in foster care less than 12 months and in a maximum of two different foster homes (or placements). Such moves can be traumatic for the child, often forcing a change of school and leaving friends and community support. Only 9 states accomplish both have foster children remain in care a year or less and ensure they do not experience the trauma of multiple moves. These states are: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, West Virginia, and Wyoming. 5. Only 11 states help find forever families ASAP for a large share of foster children. When a foster child is successfully adopted into a forever family, he or she has often been in the child welfare system a long time. Just 28 states, on average, take less than 30 months to move a child from an abusive biological home through the foster care system and into a safe, permanent adoptive family. This means just over half the states take less than two and one half years to move a child from abuse and uncertainty to safety and stability. Only four states accomplish this in less than 24 months: Colorado, Iowa, Utah, and Vermont. Just 18 states, in 2010, had 15% of foster children (about 1 in 7) adopted. Only 11 states accomplish both less than 30 months on average to move a foster child to an adoptive home, and a large number of adoptions as a share of the number of kids in foster care. These states are: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Maine, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

9 T h e B e s t a n d W o r s t W h i c h S t a t e s a r e R i g h t F o r K i d s? Which states are the leaders and which fall short when it comes to helping children who are abused or neglected? Below is the listing of the 10 Best and 10 Worst states for kids. Look closely at the list. There is no apparent size, geography, relative wealth, or ethnic profile of a top performing state. The list is diverse. What matters is not the physical characteristics of a state, but how states act and what programs and policies they have. Any state can be a top performer. That s good news for policymakers and great news for kids who are abused and neglected. Top 10 Right For Kids States (with score, out of 110 points) 1. Idaho (78.9) 2. New Hampshire (73.6) 3. North Carolina (73.1) 4. Florida (70.9) 5. New Jersey (70.7) 6. Arizona (70.3) 7. Colorado (69.6) 8. North Dakota (68.9) 9. Hawaii (68.2) 10. Tennessee (66.7) Bottom 10 Wrong For Kids States (with score, out of 110 points) 42. South Carolina (55.3) 43. Mississippi (55.3) 44. Nebraska (53.5) 45. New York (53.4) 46. Montana (52.6) 47. South Dakota (51) 48. Illinois (50) 49. Oregon (48.9) 50. Massachusetts (42.3) 51. District of Columbia (40.9) 2012 Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 9

10 W h a t i f A l l S t a t e s P e r f o r m e d L i k e t h e T o p 1 0 R i g h t f o r K i d s S t a t e s? The notion of all states having a high-performing child welfare system is not policy utopia. In fact, as data in this report and on RightForKids.org shows, over a relatively short period of time states can and do dramatically improve or worsen their performance in protecting and serving kids who are abused and neglected. So what would it mean if all states were to perform as well as the Top 10 Right For Kids States? What if the rest of the states had, on average, the same outcomes as the Top 10 states? 1. There would be 72,000 fewer kids in foster care (17% fewer) 2. There would be almost 19,000 more adoptions from foster care each year (36% more) The RIGHT FOR KIDS RANKING matters. Child advocates, families, voters, policymakers and the media must encourage states to reform their child welfare systems and develop a child welfare safety net that serves abused and neglected kids well. When this happens, a compassionate and premier child welfare network across the country will be the reality, not just an ideal Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

11 R i g h t F o r K i d s R a n k i n g The 2012 RIGHT FOR KIDS RANKING is based on the most recent data available mostly from 2010 and factors a state s change in performance over time, from 2007 to Rankings - Alphabetical Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Rankings - Best to Worst Idaho New Hampshire North Carolina Florida New Jersey Arizona Colorado North Dakota Hawaii Tennessee Wyoming Georgia Ohio West Virginia Iowa Pennsylvania Wisconsin New Mexico Washington Utah Minnesota Michigan Kentucky Indiana Maine Missouri Virginia Nevada Louisiana Kansas Oklahoma Texas Alabama Maryland Rhode Island Connecticut Arkansas Delaware Vermont Alaska California South Carolina Mississippi Nebraska New York Montana South Dakota Illinois Oregon Massachusetts District of Columbia Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 11

12 v s R i g h t f o r K i d s R a n k i n g To best understand how state performance changed over time (in this case four years), a calculation of the 2006 Ranking is provided for comparison with the 2012 RIGHT FOR KIDS RANKING. The 2006 Ranking also measures how a state s performance changed from 2003 to What is most telling about the 2006 Rankings compared to the 2012 Rankings is how much states moved. From the 2006 to the 2012 Rankings, 19 states moved more than 10 places (up or down). In fact, 14 states moved at least 15 places. What does this mean? States can and do significantly change how well they serve abused and neglected kids in a very short amount of time. A child welfare system is not an immovable bureaucracy. It is a dynamic system and its performance can quickly and dramatically change. On the other hand, this also indicates that top performing states must be vigilant and pro-active to preserve their good standing. In fact, only Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, and North Carolina were Top 10 States in both 2012 and Other states saw dramatic improvement, including Florida (+12 places), Georgia (+18), Iowa (+23), Maryland (+17), Michigan (+18), New Jersey (+26), North Dakota (+28), and West Virginia (+23). Some states performed poorly in 2006 and still performed poorly years later, like the District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Oregon. Performance between 2006 and 2012 plummeted in Alabama (-28 places), California (-14), Delaware (-34, the largest drop), Mississippi (-17), Missouri (-19), Montana (-27), and Utah (-19). RightForKids.org shows which outcome areas drove a state s change in performance, and provides state specific overviews of all key data points Moved 2006 to State Score Rank Score Rank 2012 Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

13 Sub Rankings The Best and Worst States for Each of the 11 Outcome Areas Families, policymakers, the media, and the public need to understand which states are leading in each specific outcome area. Each outcome area was specifically chosen as part of the assessment of states child welfare systems because they were either identified by the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as being a core area of child welfare system performance or identified by relevant research as being core to a well-performing child welfare system. The sub rankings for each outcome area show those top performers that may have policy or program strategies worthy of replication in other, lower performing states. The RightForKids.org Web site allows users to see the entire sub rankings for each outcome area. These sub rankings are helpful to child advocates and policymakers to guide where reforms should be targeted and what outcome measures should be monitored as such reforms are implemented. The following section provides information on each of the 11 outcome areas, and each state s score and rank for each of the outcome areas. The highest possible score for each outcome area is 10 points. Outcome 1 Reduce Abuse Outcome 2 Reduce Abuse in Foster Care Outcome 3 Permanent Families, Safe Homes Outcome 4 Return Home Quickly and Safely Outcome 5 Forever Families ASAP Outcome 6 Here Today and Tomorrow Outcome 7 Hope and Homes for Teens Outcome 8 Fostering A Good Education Outcome 9 Fewer Foster Kids Outcome 10 Rapid Response Outcome 11 More Forever Families 2012 Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 13

14 O u t c o m e 1 R e d u c e A b u s e Measuring Success Which states do the best job at stopping the cycle of abuse and neglect, as evidenced by children not repeatedly entering the child welfare system for persistent abuse and neglect? Which states achieve the ultimate outcome of reducing the rate of abuse and neglect overall? The ultimate goal of a well-functioning child welfare system is to reduce the chance of a child being abused once or repeatedly. In fact, the most recent Fourth Federal National Incidence Study on Child Maltreatment (NIS 4) highlight[s] an important and potentially meaningful drop in the rate of violence toward children. The trend overall suggests that comprehensive prevention strategies, high-quality clinical interventions, and holding those who harm children accountable for their actions have the capacity to keep children safe. Sadly, even with this drop the rates of maltreatment are still above their reported levels in 1986 and Did You Know 31 states reduced the rate of confirmed abuse or neglect victims from 2007 to Sadly, in the other 20 states the confirmed rate of abuse and neglect increased. Key Results Percent of children without a recurrence of maltreatment (abuse or neglect) within 6 months (2010 data) Rate of maltreatment victims per 100,000 children (2010) Change in the rate of maltreatment victims per 100,000 children from 2007 to 2010 Top 10 states Bottom 10 states Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii 7 12 Idaho Illinois 5 34 Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana 6 23 Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota 6 22 Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia 7 12 Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

15 O u t c o m e 2 R e d u c e A b u s e i n F o s t e r C a r e Measuring Success Which states protect kids from being abused or neglected while in a foster home? Which states ensure children s safety while in foster care by conducting monthly in-home visits with almost all foster children? Which states have a short average length of stay for children in foster care before returning them home or to an adoptive family? If a child must be removed from his or her biological home, states must ensure that child is not abused again in a foster home by the foster parents, by other children in the home or by some other person within that home. States can do that by visiting children monthly, at the foster home, to ensure the foster family is providing a safe and nurturing environment, and to provide support to hard working foster parents. Did You Know In 9 states, less than half of all foster children are visited each month. These states are: Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee (did not report at all), and Vermont. Foster children in the District of Columbia and Illinois spend the longest time in foster care a median of 30 and 29 months, respectively. These kids spend more time in foster care then they will spend at school for first grade, second grade and third grade combined. Foster care should be a temporary transition, not a destination. By reducing the average amount of time a child remains in foster care, the state can reduce the chance that child will be abused while in the system. Shorter stays and accountability through monthly visits protect kids. Key Results Percent of children maltreated while in foster care (2010 data) Percent of children in foster care receiving monthly visits (2010) Percent of children in foster care receiving home visits (2010) Median length of stay in foster care (months) for children in foster care on September 30, 2010 Top 10 states Bottom 10 states Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida 9 2 Georgia Hawaii 6 47 Idaho 9 2 Illinois 6 47 Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland 7 40 Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico 9 2 New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma 8 25 Oregon Pennsylvania 9 2 Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee 5 51 Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 15

16 O u t c o m e 3 P E R M A N E N T F A M I L i e s, S A F E H O M E S Measuring Success Which states help kids move to a permanent home before they turn 18? Which states help young children live in a family-like setting while in foster care, such as a foster home, rather than at group homes or a state institution? A child who has been removed from an abusive or neglectful home should ideally be in a family-like setting a foster family. Young children in particular should be in foster care over group homes or institutions, whenever possible. A child in foster care should transition to a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible. Key Results Did You Know South Carolina and Minnesota place young children in institutions and groups homes at three times the national average. On the positive side, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Oregon, and Washington placed kids in group settings at less than one-third the national average. Of all children in foster care for 24 months or longer on the first day of the year, what percentage were discharged to a permanent home prior to their 18th birthday and by the end of the year? (Federal Composite Outcome 3.1, 2010 data) Of all children discharged from foster care during 2010 and who were legally free for adoption at the time of discharge (i.e., there was a parental rights termination date reported to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and Families for both mother and father), what percentage were discharged to a permanent home prior to their 18th birthday? (Federal Composite Outcome 3.2, 2010) Of all children who entered care during the 2010 fiscal year and were age 12 or younger at time of this placement, what percentage were in group homes or institutions? (2010) Top 10 states Bottom 10 states Alabama 7 18 Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas 6 31 Kentucky 5 41 Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia 8 5 Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

17 O u t c o m e 4 R E T U R N H O M E Q U I C K L Y A N D S A F E L Y Measuring Success Which states quickly return children to their biological families whenever possible and appropriate? Which states are successful in these reunifications as evidenced by children not reentering foster care because of recurring abuse and neglect in their biological home? Whenever safe, possible and appropriate, children should transition back to their biological home as quickly as possible. Obviously, the biological parent(s) must successfully address the cause of the maltreatment that forced their child into foster care in the first place. Did You Know Reunifying families is tough work, but some states do it quickly and well. Arkansas, Idaho, and Kentucky seemed to have figured it out. New York and Vermont have work to do. Key Results Time to reunification-median length of stay (2010 data) Of all children discharged from foster care to reunification during the year who had been in care for 8 days or longer, what percentage were reunified in less than 12 months from the date of the latest removal from home? (Includes trial home visit adjustment, Federal Composite Measure 1.1, 2010) Of all children discharged from foster care to reunification during the year who had been in care for 8 days or longer, what was the median length of stay (months) from the date of the latest removal from home until the date of discharge to reunification? (Includes trial home visit adjustment, Federal Composite Measure 1.2, 2010) Of all children discharged from foster care to reunification in the 12-month period prior to the year shown, what percentage reentered care in less than 12 months from the date of discharge? (Federal Composite Measure 1.4, 2010) Top 10 states Bottom 10 states Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut 5 41 Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana 6 23 Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan 5 41 Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah 7 6 Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 17

18 O u t c o m e 5 F o r e v e r F a m i l i e s A S A P Did You Know Measuring Success Which states quickly move children freed for adoption into forever families (ideally within 12 months)? Which states have a majority of children removed from an abusive home transition to an adoptive family within 24 months, ensuring no more than 2 years in foster care before getting a new, safe forever family? Which states move children to adoption after they have been languishing in foster care for at least 17 months? Four states take an average of at least 40 months to move a child from an abusive home to an adoptive family. These states are Illinois, Maryland, New York, and Washington, DC. For perspective, the Civil War was just under 48 months. Only one state, Utah, moves children to a forever family in less than 18 months. When transitioning back to their biological family or a relative is not possible, children should move quickly to a safe, appropriate adoptive family as quickly as possible. Studies show that an adoptive family, not foster care, is the favorable home environment. Compared to children in foster care, adopted children are more likely to be living with a married mother and father (71% compared to 56%); three times more likely to be financially secure; and more likely to live in a safe neighborhood. In addition, children in adopted families require less taxpayer support than children in foster care or similar children living in single-parent families. 5 Key Results Portion of children moved to adoption: Less than 12 months to adoption (2010 data) Less than 24 months to adoption (2010) Less than 36 months to adoption (2010) Less than 48 months to adoption (2010) 48 or more months to adoption (2010) Of all children discharged from foster care to a finalized adoption during the year, what percentage were discharged in less than 24 months from the date of the latest removal from home? (Federal Composite Measure 2.1, 2010) Of all children discharged from foster care to a finalized adoption during the year, what was the median length of stay in care (in months) from the date of latest removal from the home to the date of discharge to adoption? (Federal Composite Measure 2.2, 2010) Of all children in foster care on the first day of the year who were in care for 17 continuous months or longer (and who, by the last day of the year, were not discharged from foster care with a discharge reason of reunification, living with relative, or guardianship), what percentage were discharged from foster care to a finalized adoption by the last day of the year? (Federal Composite Measure 2.3, 2010) Of all children in foster care on the first day of the year who were in care for 17 continuous months or longer, and who were not legally free for adoption Top 10 states Bottom 10 states prior to that day (i.e., there was not a parental rights termination date reported to AFCARS for both mother and father), what percentage became legally free for adoption during the first 6 months of the year? (Federal Composite Measure 2.4, 2010) Of all children who became legally free for adoption in the 12-month period prior to the year shown (i.e., there was a parental rights termination date reported to AFCARS for both mother and father), what percentage were discharged from foster care to a finalized adoption in less than 12 months from the date of becoming legally free? (Federal Composite Measure 2.5, 2010) Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida 5 7 Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine 4 15 Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska 4 15 Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah 8 1 Vermont 5 6 Virginia Washington 3 39 West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

19 O u t c o m e 6 H E R E T O D A Y... A N D T O M O R R O W Measuring Success Which states ensure children in foster care have a stable environment as evidenced by just one or two moves (typically one or two foster homes, maximum)? Which states ensure children in foster care have a stable environment even if they remain in foster care for a year or more or even more than two years? Did You Know The longer a child remains in foster care, the more likely he or she will bounce from one foster home to another. While only one in six kids in foster care for less than a year live in at least three different foster homes (could include group homes or institutions), that rate increases to four in six kids for those in foster care more than two years. When not with his or her own family, a child suffering from abuse or neglect should not be further traumatized by multiple moves from one new setting to another. Studies show that Frequent moves may result in children losing contact with siblings, other family members, friends and adults in their community who may have been involved in their lives, such as neighbors, coaches, religious leaders and others. This further places the children at risk of emotional and behavioral problems and other negative outcomes. 6 Key Results Of all children served in foster care during the year who were in care for at least 8 days but less than 12 months, what percentage had two or fewer placement settings? (Federal Composite Measure 4.1, 2010 data) Of all children served in foster care during the year who were in care for at least 12 months, what percentage had two or fewer placement settings? (Federal Composite Measure 4.2, 2010) Of all children served in foster care during the year who were in care for at least 24 months, what percentage had two or fewer placement settings? (Federal Composite Measure 4.3, 2010) Top 10 states Bottom 10 states Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri 4 40 Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York 9 2 North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon 7 18 Pennsylvania Rhode Island 7 18 South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas 4 40 Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 19

20 O u t c o m e 7 H o p e a n d H o m e s f o r T e e n s Measuring Success Which states do not give up on teenagers but instead help them move to a safe, permanent home? Which states prevent teens from ever getting into foster care by moving them into a permanent home quickly when they enter foster care as a pre-teen? Which states help teenagers in foster care find adoptive families? States have a particular responsibility to ensure that teenage foster children successfully move to permanent homes and not just run out the clock on the foster care system. These teenagers who age out of the system struggle academically, struggle to hold jobs, more heavily rely on public assistance, are at higher risk for mental and physical health problems and have higher rates of incarceration. 7 Key Results Of all children who, during the year shown, either 1) were discharged from foster care prior to age 18 with a discharge reason of emancipation, or 2) reached their 18th birthday while in foster care, what percentage were in foster care for 3 years or longer? (Federal Composite Measure 3.3, 2010 data) Rate of teenagers in foster care per 100,000 children (2010) Change in rate of teenagers in foster care per 100,000 children from 2007 to 2010 (2010 data) Rate of teenage adoptions from foster care per 1,000 foster teens (2010) Did You Know Some states are leaders in moving teenage foster kids to adoptive homes: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Sadly, even these states, on average, helped just 11 out of every 1,000 teenage foster children find an adoptive family in Top 10 states Bottom 10 states Change in rate of teenage adoptions from foster care per 1,000 foster teens from 2007 to 2010 (2010) Alabama Alaska 4 38 Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware 6 3 District of Columbia Florida Georgia 5 10 Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky 5 10 Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi 4 37 Missouri 4 38 Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire 4 38 New Jersey 4 41 New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont 5 10 Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

21 O u t c o m e 8 F o s t e r i n g a G o o d E d u c a t i o n Measuring Success States do not uniformly report on a foster child s educational outcomes. However, the literature shows that having a foster child live in a stable home (not bouncing to different foster homes and, often, different schools), as well as ultimately moving that child into a safe, permanent home are key indicators of academic success. Did You Know Quickly and safely moving children back with their biological families or on to adoptive homes requires skills, focus and persistence by all parties involved. The top five states that successfully and quickly do both, in rank order, are Arkansas, Colorado, Utah, Minnesota, and Tennessee. Top 10 states Bottom 10 states Which states provide stable homes for children in foster care, ensuring they have the best chance to succeed academically? Which states help foster children quickly move to a safe permanent home, either through returning to their biological families (in less than 12 months) or to adoptive families (in less than 24 months)? Although foster children s education outcomes are not directly tracked by the federal government, studies show that fewer home placements and achieving permanency are both key indicators of future academic success. 8 Academic success is critical to better employment, income and quality of life indicators. Key Results Indicator of greater academic success fewer placements Score for Outcome 6 Here Today And Tomorrow (2010 data) Indicator of likely academic success permanency through adoption or reunification Of all children who entered foster care for the first time in the 6-month period just prior to the year shown, and who remained in care for 8 days or longer, what percentage were discharged from foster care to reunification in less than 12 months from the date of the latest removal from home? (Includes trial home visit adjustment, Federal Composite Measure 1.3, 2010) Of all children discharged from foster care to a finalized adoption during the year, what percentage were discharged in less than 24 months from the date of the latest removal from home? (Federal Composite Measure 2.1, 2010) Alabama 3 47 Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota 6 13 Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio 7 1 Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania 6 13 Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia 5 29 Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 21

22 O u t c o m e 9 F e w e r F o s t e r K i d s Measuring Success Which states do the best job overall of reducing the number of children in foster care? Which states have the lowest share of children in foster care at any given time? A natural outcome of a well-functioning child welfare system is fewer kids being abused, kids who remain in the system a shorter time before returning home or moving to a new adoptive family, and, subsequently, fewer children in foster care overall. In fact, from 2000 to 2009, the total number of children in foster care dropped 22%. 9 Key Results Rate of children in foster care per 100,000 children (2010 data) Change in the rate children in foster care per 100,000 children from 2007 to 2010 (2010) Did You Know The seven states with the largest drop in the number of children in foster care from 2007 to 2010: Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Some of these states have a high rate of children in foster care, but they are rapidly moving in the right direction. Top 10 states Bottom 10 states The top five states that reduced the number of children in foster care over time AND had a low number of kids in foster care in 2010 are: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii and Oklahoma. Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida 7 5 Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio 6 20 Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina 6 20 South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia 7 5 Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

23 O u t c o m e 1 0 R a p i d R e s p o n s e Measuring Success Which states rapidly respond to and investigate allegations of abuse or neglect? To reduce the risk of further abuse or neglect, states must respond to allegations of child abuse as quickly as possible. For a child being abused or neglected, a slow response could mean permanent injury or even death. Key Results How long it takes the state to respond to an allegation of abuse - Time to Investigation - Mean (average, 2010 data) How long it takes the state to respond to an allegation of abuse - Time to Investigation - Median (midpoint, 24-hour range, 2010 data) Did You Know The average time between receiving a report of abuse or neglect and launching an investigation is less than 24 hours in 11 states: Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee and Wyoming. 13 states take longer than 120 hours (5 days) to respond. For an abused or neglected child, this could mean another five days living in an abusive home because of bureaucratic delay. It could also mean the difference between life and death. Top 10 states Bottom 10 states Alabama Alaska 0 48 Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois 9 16 Indiana Iowa 10 1 Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland 7 36 Massachusetts 0 48 Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska 4 45 Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York 10 1 North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon 0 48 Pennsylvania 0 48 Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee 10 1 Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability 23

24 O u t c o m e 1 1 M o r e F o r e v e r F a m I l i e s Measuring Success Which states do the best job at moving children in foster care to adoption? Which states have most dramatically increased the rate of adoptions from foster care from 2007 to 2010? When not appropriate or possible for a child to remain with his or her biological family, that child deserves a safe, permanent and loving adoptive family. Key Results Rate of adoptions from foster care per 100 foster children (2010 data) Change in the rate of adoptions from children in foster care per 100 foster children from 2007 to 2010 Did You Know Just five states had at least one in five foster children move to a forever family: Arizona, Idaho, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Top 10 states Bottom 10 states Nine states had a dramatic improvement in the rate of adoptions from foster care from 2007 to 2010, increasing at least 5 percentage points: Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Montana and Tennessee had a steep drop in the rate of adoptions from 2007 to Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho 10 1 Illinois Indiana Iowa 3 35 Kansas Kentucky Louisiana 6 15 Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico 8 4 New York 2 45 North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah 7 8 Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming Right for Kids Ranking Foundation for Government Accountability

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