POLICY REPORT

Michigan’s use of residential placements and group homes for children in the child welfare system is among the nation’s highest, with one of every five children living in such settings that are supposed to be used only for short-term, intensive therapy, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Nationally, one in seven children lives in group placements, even though federal law requires that they live in families whenever possible to help reduce the trauma of separation, abuse and neglect. Percentages of young people in such settings nationwide range from 4 percent in Oregon to 35 percent in Colorado. The percentage of Michigan foster children in group placements is among the nation’s highest at 18 percent, tying with Kentucky and Alabama for 36th. It has increased from 15 percent in 2007. Almost one-third of children in foster care were placed with relatives in 2013 while another third were placed with non-relative foster families.

Furthermore, the report asserts that 40 percent of young people who live in group placements nationwide have no clinical need to be in such restrictive settings, threatening their well-being and chances for finding a permanent family.

The report, Every Kid Needs a Family: Giving Children in the Child Welfare System the Best Chance for Success, highlights sobering statistics pointing to the urgent need to ensure, through sound policies and proven practices, that everything possible is being done to find loving, nurturing and supportive families to help raise more of these children.

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