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If every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets, what changes do we want to make to our child welfare system to get the results we want?



  1. The 1909 White House Conference on Dependent Children concluded that “Home life is the finest and highest product of civilization. It is the great molding force of mind and character. Children should not be deprived of it except for urgent and compelling reasons. Except in unusual circumstances, the home should not be broken up for reasons of poverty.”
  2. A 2017 report by the American Public Health Association estimates that 37.4% of all children experience a child protection investigation during their childhood. A 2015 study by the American Medical Association concluded that 12.5% of US children will experience a confirmed case of child maltreatment by their 18th birthday. The report further states that the percent of children who actually experience maltreatment is likely three times higher. 
  3. The U.S. Children’s Bureau reported that in 2014, state reports of maltreatment in foster care ranged from 0% to 1.42%. The median was .27%. In the 2005 Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study the case files of 32.8% of the children studied contained accusations of maltreatment in care. 
  4. Research has shown that children exposed to maltreatment have poorer academic performance, higher rates of absenteeism, are more likely to be referred for special education services, to misbehave in the classroom, to repeat a grade, and to drop out. A 2015 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics compared performance in Wisconsin’s standard achievement test and found that children in foster care and children involved with the child welfare system, but not in foster care, have similar levels of performance in math and reading. 
  5. Chapin Hall’s Midwest Study found that at age 24, only half of the foster youth who had aged out of the system were employed. At the same age, 16% were incarcerated and 58.8% had been convicted of a crime since age 18.
  6. The U. S. Center for Health Care Strategies reports that a recent national study examining children entering child welfare found that 86.7% had physical problems noted in their charts. Another recent study found that nearly half (47.9%) of children age 2-14 years with completed child welfare investigations had clinically significant emotional or behavioral problems. 
  7. The Child Welfare Information Gateway reports that 51.9% of the nation’s children are white. White children make up 46.4% of the children identified as child maltreatment victims, 43.4% of the children in foster care, and 43.2% of the children waiting to be adopted. Black children make up 13.8% of the child population, 22.6% of the children identified as maltreatment victims, 22.4% of the children entering foster care, and 23.1% of the children waiting to be adopted. Native American children make up .9% of the total child population, 1.3% of the children identified as victims, 2.4% of the children in foster care, and 1.9% of the children waiting to be adopted. 
  8. According to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, nearly 150,000 U.S. children are waiting in foster care for their forever families. 
  9. According to the National Runaway Safeline between 1.6 and 2.8 million United States youth run away in a year. 47% of runaway youth report conflict with parents, 43% report physical abuse before leaving home, and 34% report sexual abuse before leaving home. Over 30% of runaways had been in foster care as an adolescent. 

  10. The FBI estimates that sex trafficking in the U.S. involves 100,000 children. 60% of child sex trafficking victims recovered through FBI raids in 2013 were from foster care or group homes. 

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