The big idea
The foster system needs more attention and more innovation. The embedded primer includes information about the foster system today and potential areas for innovation (system re-designs, program changes, new tools) to improve outcomes. Below is an overview of why you should check it out and consider what you might be able to do or build to improve the space.
Why focus on fixing foster care?
The foster system is responsible for a small, concentrated group of many of the most vulnerable children in the United States.
- Less than 1% of US children, roughly .5M, are in the foster system
- Children in foster care are 3.4x more likely to experience childhood trauma
- Most children in foster care are removed from parents due to household and parental factors, not child-specific circumstances
- Children from certain demographic backgrounds are overrepresented in the foster care system (i.e., black children, LGBTQ+ children)
Children’s experience of foster care comes at a critical time in their development and is heavily influenced by external factors.
- ~50% of kids entering foster care are 5 years old or younger
- Childhood trauma (i.e., abuse, neglect) permanently affect brain development and is correlated with risk of medical/behavioral conditions
- Children’s pathways and outcomes are varied and depend on many factors, including judicial discretion, case manager turnover, placement setting, parental case plan performance, and caregiver characteristics
The child welfare system has the potential to be a nexus for better interventions for a vulnerable population more broadly.
- Many children remain in the care of high-need / at-risk families upon exiting the system
- Spend on programs for foster system alumni who age out of the system is 10x more than the cost of foster care
- The foster system can serve as a center to coordinate interventions across multiple systems during childhood and into adulthood and through family-centered interventions