On Tuesday, December 17, NPR’s Steve Inskeep and journalist with The Kansas City Star Laura Bauer discussed the investigation of the outcomes for foster care children in America. The 7-minute interview, “Kansas City Star’ Probe Uncover Failures In Foster Care System, illustrated what happens to children who age out of foster care.
Bauer and her colleagues at the Kansas City Star traced foster kids into adulthood and reported on their experiences from removal from home and placement into foster care to turning 18 in care and the outcomes afterwards. Bauer emphasized that when a child ages out of the foster care system, several next steps can occur; however she stated that many will have the experience of being in a foster home and “a foster parent will come to them and say, you’re almost 18. You got to go. Then they’re on their own. And sometimes the first stop is the homeless shelter.” Inskeep acknowledged that many young people have parents beyond the age of 18 and that parenting continues even if a child goes off to college or stay home for a while. Bauer shared that natural relationships that are not paid are unlikely for many young people transitioning from foster care.
When addressing supporting or strengthen the family to keep children in the home, Bauer shared the hopefulness of the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act and the ability for states to spend money on family preservation. Inskeep, who shared he had been in foster care, highlighted the challenge of money being available for family preservation even if it makes sense due to the politics of providing support to some families where “the biological parents are doing things we disapprove of right now.” It would make sense to support families compared to spending funding on foster care. The “politics” that giving services or supports to the family philosophy was that it looks like welfare, stated Inskeep. Bauer shared that the “average foster care payment is about $25,000 a year per kid,” whereas “family preservation services range from $5,000 to $10,000 for the family. She shared that for families that cannot afford enough food when SNAP runs out at the end of the month or struggles with utility bills, these are the family that we need to strengthen by any means necessary.