Youth's Perspectives on Group Care: Outreach to Youth Living in Washington's Group Homes.
Washington State Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman.
State Resource Technical Report
Washington State Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman
6720 Fort Dent Way, Suite 240 Mail Stop TT-99
Tukwila, WA 98188
Tel: 800-571-7321 206-439-3870
This report presents findings from an evaluation of Washington State’s group foster care facilities. The study included a review of laws and policies governing group care and BRS, group home site visits to all facilities in Washington licensed as a group home with a BRS (Behavioral Rehabilitation Services) contract (9 facilities were visited), surveys of youth (n=72), group home staff surveys (n=63), and 34 individual interviews with youth residing in group homes. Findings from the study indicate: following cuts in BRS funding, Washington has seen a gradual decrease in the use of group care placement over the past five years and in 2015, 6.5% of Washington children in out-of-home care were placed in non-family settings; 44% of the children placed at BRS facilities OFCO visited are 12 years of age or younger and 80% were males; youth in group homes want more freedom and opportunities to participate in activities; LGBTQ+ youth discussed challenges they face in group homes, including isolation and bullying; youth appreciate frequent and quality contact with their assigned caseworkers; and any facilities had physical space to accept more children for placement but could not hire enough staff to meet required staffing ratios. Recommendations are made for facilitating contact between youth and their sources of support, meeting the needs of LGBTQ youth, increasing the number of group home staff, improving data collection and analysis, improving caseworker training and reducing caseloads, increasing caseworker contact with youth, expanding alternative placement options, increasing judicial oversight, and ensuring attorney representation to protect the rights of youth. 74 references.
Washington; group homes; foster adolescents; childs attitudes; lesbians; gays; caseworker visits with children; child welfare training; child advocacy; lawyers; caseload management; judicial role