The paper and diagram below describe the typical progression a child makes through a state welfare system. Each figure in the diagram below links to a specific decision point described in the paper, which begins immediately after the diagram.
This chart provides a model, which highlights typical decision points on a child's journey through the current foster care system. Although the format is based on federal and common state law and practice, nevertheless it is only a model. Laws vary across states, as does the capacity and practices of child welfare agencies and courts to manage their caseloads.
This paper describes the typical progression a child makes through a state's child welfare system. Each state's child welfare agency is responsible for ensuring the safety and well being of children. Child welfare systems have several chief components:
· Foster care ? full-time substitute care for children removed from their parents or guardians and for whom the state has responsibility. Foster care provides food and housing to meet the physical needs of children who are removed from their homes.
· Child protective services (CPS) ? generally a division within the child welfare agency that administers a more narrow set of services, such as receiving and responding to child abuse and neglect allegations and providing initial services to stabilize a family.
· Juvenile and family courts ? courts with specific jurisdiction over child maltreatment and child protection cases including foster care and adoption cases. In jurisdictions without a designated family court, general trial courts hear child welfare cases along with other civil and criminal matters.
· Other child welfare services ? in combination with the above, these services address the complex family problems associated with child abuse and neglect. They include family preservation, family reunification, adoption, guardianship, and independent living.
· ?While 542,000 children were in foster care on September 30, 2001, 805,000 spent some time in care over the course of that year.?1
· ?Children in care in 2001 had been in foster care for an average of 33 months. More than 17 percent (91,217) of the children had been in care for 5 or more years.?1
Once a child is known to the child welfare agency, ...
... middle of paper ...
...ip Care Families - Frequently Asked Questions (Spring 2000) and Federal Register, Vol.65, No. 16, (January 25, 2000), pp. 4032-4033.
11U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, Foster Care National Statistics April 2001.
12U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Child Maltreatment 1999: Annual Report (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2001). Some states may include settings with fewer than seven children as group homes.
13U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Program Instruction, ACYF-PI-89-09 (October 1989).
14Foster Care National Statistics April 2001 (2000b).
15Steve Christian, A Place to Call Home Adoption and Guardianship for Children in Foster Care, p.28 (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2000)
16State of Tennessee, Comptroller of the Treasury, Foster Care Independent Living Programs (1998).
171994 Green Book (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1994).
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