Improving Child Welfare

An estimated one in 17 Americans will spend at least one day in foster care. Many of those children end up separated from relatives, in group homes, or in poorly matched foster homes in part because the foster family licensing process (including for relatives) is cumbersome and often takes more than 200 days. Most recruitment relies on billboards and word of mouth instead of data. And the sense of urgency to safely place a child on a moment’s notice means initial placements are often not family members or based on the child’s specific needs.This is especially problematic for kin families, as children can languish for months living with strangers or in group homes while waiting for adults who already know and love them to be approved as placements.

The state of Rhode Island recently transformed practices within its foster care licensing and approval system leading to increased efficiencies including reducing the time it takes for a foster family to complete the licensing process. Additional states have committed to adapting the lessons learned in the coming months and by scaling this practice to additional states, this project has the ability to markedly improve the states’ processes, reducing the time it takes for foster families to be vetted and matched with children, and impacting the lives of thousands of foster children and serve as a national model.

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Emily Tavoulareas

Fellow, Data + Digital
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Cori Zarek

Executive Director
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