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KWIC Indicator Narrative

Foster Care - Children and Youth Discharged from Foster Care

Data Provider: NYS Office of Children and Family Services

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Related Indicators:

Life Area:

Family

Definition:

Children are discharged from foster care when the court is satisfied that a permanency plan is sufficient to ensure the child's safety and well -being. Children are discharged from foster care to a variety of caregivers, including: parent(s), relative,adoptive parent, their own care, and "other". The rate of children discharged from foster care is calculated by dividing the number of children discharged in a given calendar year by the total number of children who were in foster care at any time during the calendar year. The percentage of each type of discharge is calculated by dividing the respective number of children discharged by the total number of children and youth discharged during the given calendar year.

Significance:

Reunification of the child with his or her family is the preferred permanency option whenever that can be safely achieved (National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, 2004). In those cases where reunification is not appropriate, adoption is viewed as the ideal permanent legal option for children because it provides the greatest degree of permanence. Adoption, however, may not be a realistic or appropriate option. Alternative permanency placements may not provide the same level of permanency available through adoption but frequently facilitate continuity of family ties, which may be in the child's best interests.

A fundamental objective of the landmark Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 was to institute timelines to expedite children's discharge from foster care and to facilitate a timely return to their families, if possible. Further, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 allows states to use federal funds to provide family reunification services for the first 15 months after a child enters foster care. This legislation also reduces the number of months that a child may remain in foster care without a permanency hearing from 18 to 12 months and requires states to file for termination of the rights of parents of children who have spent 15 of the most recent 22 months in foster care. The New York State Permanency Bill, Chapter 3 of the Laws of 2005, significantly impacts Family Courts, local districts and voluntary agencies and provides children placed out of their homes with more timely and effective judicial and administrative reviews in order to promote permanency, safety and well-being. Child protective removal procedures, permanency planning timelines and processes for foster children, grounds for termination of parental rights, and conditional surrenders of children for adoption are among the areas influenced by this bill. Additionally, the legislation changes the permanency hearing requirements to satisfy the Title IV-E six-month independent review requirements.

Youth can, however, stay in foster care until their 21st birthday. To stay in foster care after age 18, the youth must give consent to remain in foster care and must be in school, or in college, or regularly attending a vocational or technical training program, or lack the skills or ability to live independently.

Findings:

In New York State, 12,378 children and youth - or 37.2 percent of all children who were in foster care at any time during the calendar year - were discharged from foster care in 2011. The percentage of children discharged in 2011 was higher than the percentage of children discharged in 2005 (35.2).

References:

National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information. 2004. Decision-making for the permanent placement of children. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Online http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/planning.pdf. Accessed July 2006.

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