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What's Best for Kids is Also Good for State Budgets

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The Annie E. Casey Foundation's Tracey Feild talked with the National Governor’s Association to explain the developmental toll group settings can have on children. She also explained that without spending more money, children can have better outcomes if communities change how they help abused and neglected kids.

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What's Best for Kids is Also Good for State Budgets

  1. 1. 1 congregate care rightsizing September 20, 2012 WHAT’S BEST FOR KIDS IS ALSO GOOD FOR STATE BUDGETS NATIONAL GOVERNORS’ASSOCIATION The Annie E Casey Foundation Tracey Feild, Director Child Welfare Strategy Group The Annie E Casey Foundation
  2. 2. WHAT IS CONGREGATE CARE? Very few children need to be cared for in group settings The Annie E Casey Foundation 2 “Congregate care” includes residential treatment centers, psychiatric institutions, children’s institutions, group homes and shelters. It is characterized by highly structured schedules, and usually, but not always, includes “shift” staff. • Virtually all children can and should grow up in families. • Even children and youth with specialized medical and behavioral needs can be well served in families with the right supports.
  3. 3. Congregate care should be used as an intervention, not a destination WHEN SHOULD CONGREGATE CARE BE USED? • Youth who need extra supervision and structure due to dangerous behaviors may need the structure and supervision afforded in congregate care. • These behaviors can usually be de-escalated in 3 – 6 months, when the child can be returned to a family. • Congregate care programs are highly structured in order to manage youth behaviors, limiting individual development opportunities. The Annie E Casey Foundation 3
  4. 4. Inappropriate use of congregate care harms children and youth The Annie E Casey Foundation 4 WHY IS CONGREGATE CARE OVERUSED? Over-reliance on congregate care is usually the result of: • An under-attended foster parent development and support system • Poor use of kinship care • Inadequate home-based therapeutic services and • Inadequate placement and utilization review processes. WHY IS CONGREGATE CARE HARMFUL? • Considerable research evidence points to the negative developmental impact of these facilities on younger children (<12). • Child development experts attest to the negative impact on teens as well: Adolescents need more than behavior control (provided by congregate facilities); they need support and guidance geared specifically to their individual developmental levels, allowing them to take on more responsibility over time.
  5. 5. Many states have reduced their over-reliance on congregate care by reinvesting existing resources in family-based services The Annie E Casey Foundation 5 • The national average is 15% of kids in the foster care system, but many states still have 25% or more in congregate care. • Best practice systems have reduced their usage of congregate care to 10% or less of kids in out-of-home care. • Some local jurisdictions have even reduced their usage to less than 5%. REDUCTIONS IN USAGE OF CONGREGATE CARE, SELECTED STATES (Percentage of foster children in congregate care settings) Source: AFCARS
  6. 6. WHAT IS THE GOAL? Message should be that saved money will be reinvested in more cost effective, preventive services The goal is to work with providers over time to downsize the number of congregate beds, while increasing spending on family- based care, including: • Home based services to intact families • Supported kinship care, and • Supported foster care. WHAT IS THE MESSAGE? The state is counting on the provider community to step up – to get off their campuses and into the community to do what’s best for kids and families! Children and teens belong in families, not in group homes or institutions!! The Annie E Casey Foundation 6
  7. 7. Shifting business models from fixed assets (congregate care beds) to family-based services (staff intensive) is not cost free The Annie E Casey Foundation 7 PROVIDERS MUST BE TOLD Some group care beds will be eliminated: • These are more likely to be (low end) group homes, rather than RTC beds; • But RTC length of stay should decrease substantially, reducing RTC bed need as well. To the extent providers see re-deployed funding for: • New community services to support intact families • Treatment foster care to meet kids’ therapeutic needs • More supported kinship funds The reductions in congregate care will be more palatable to the provider community
  8. 8. The Annie E Casey Foundation 8 The outcome of a rightsizing initiative is more kids will grow up in families, where they belong, and it’s likely that more children can have their needs met in families at a smaller overall cost.

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