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RB 510CDRB

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RB 510CDRB

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RB 510CDRB

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Foster care is an exceptionally sensitive component of the state’s child welfare system because it can mean the removal of a child from a family. So the goal of the foster care system is to safely reunite children with their own families under improved conditions or to provide stable and beneficial home environ - ments elsewhere. Data show that the state has made great progress in moving children out of foster care. Since 2000f there has been a 45 percent drop in the share of California children in the systemf a reduction achieved largely through shortening the time that most children spend in foster care. In b1 of California’s 58 countiesf the number of children in foster care declined by 10 percent or more between 2000 and 2009—even as the popula - tion of children in the state increased from 9.b million to 10 million. The decline has been most pronounced among black childrenf who have long been overrepresented in the child welfare system. In 2000f 5.4 percent of California’s black children were in foster caref but only 2.7 percent were in 2009. Furthermoref more foster children are remaining in their first out-of-home placementf rather than going in and out of multiple placementsf than at the beginning of the decade; and more children who entered foster care later in the decade are eventually placed with relatives. bP Photo/Be Beto M bt thews Foster Care in California 2 www.ppic.org These reductionsf which far outpaced those across the rest of the countryf may have resulted at least in part from a more intense focus by local and state policymakers on the problems of foster caref which in turn led to innovations in child welfare policies and practices. The system still faces significant challenges. Payments to foster families and other out-of- home care providers have not kept up with inflation. Despite the reduction in the proportion of black children in the systemf they are still substantially overrepresented. There has been a worrisome increase in the share of children who enter foster care more than once during their childhoods. Andf despite the significant reductionsf the number of children who age out of the system—often facing uncertain futures with too little adult guidance—has actu- ally risen since the beginning of the decade. The changes we find and report here are measures of processf not of outcome. Confirma- tion that California children are in fact better off because they either entered foster care or left it requires investigation into their circumstances. Toward that endf we recommend the gathering of broader dataf including measures of the well-being of all children who come into contact with the child welfare systemf but especially those who spend time in foster care. Tracking children over timef as well as linking child welfare records with educationalf healthf parental employmentf and criminal records collected by other government agen- ciesf would yield valuable information about children’s well-being. It would also pave the way for policy and practice innovations that could extend the noteworthy changes that have occurred in this decade. Please visit the report’s publication page http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=905 to find related resources." 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