Foster Care: HHS Could Do More to Support States' Efforts to Keep Children in Family-Based Care: Report to the Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate.
United States Government Accountability Office.
Report to Congress
ii, 31 p.
Published: October 2015
This report presents findings from a study that investigated how selected States have reduced their use of congregate care when placing foster children, challenges with reducing congregate care placements, and efforts the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken to help States reduce congregate care. For the study, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) analyzed child welfare data from HHS; reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and documents; and interviewed State child welfare officials in Connecticut, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Washington. In four of these States, GAO also visited and spoke with local child welfare officials and congregate care providers. Findings indicate the States had a variety of efforts under way to help ensure they placed foster children in family-based settings rather than in group homes or institutions, also known as congregate care, including more oversight of decisions to place children in congregate care and the length of stay; enhanced recruiting and training for specialized foster families to care for children with serious emotional, behavioral, or medical problems; and increased supports for families in crisis. State officials credited these efforts with an average decline of 47% in their use of congregate care from fiscal years 2004 through 2013; however, percentages of foster children in congregate care still ranged from 5 percent to 34 percent, mirroring the variation nationwide in fiscal year 2013. Stakeholders identified HHS actions that would help them in transforming their use of congregate care, including additional data analysis and sharing of best practices. It is recommended that HHS implement these actions, and the report notes that HHS has concurred with the recommendation. Appendices explain the different types of congregate care facilities used by the four States that were visited. 28 references.
foster care; foster children; child placement; child welfare reform; group homes; residential care institutions; foster families; state federal aid; state programs; US Department of Health and Human Services