A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

New report finds majority of Kentucky’s more than 8,000 foster children are being placed with families

By Nadia Ramlagan
Public News Service

More Kentucky children in foster care are being placed with families, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

More than 8,000 children in Kentucky are in foster care, and about 81% live with relatives or in a family setting, compared with an 86% family placement rate nationally. The findings show Kentucky is in line with other states in working to place more children with relatives and foster families rather than in group homes or institutions.

More than 80 percent of Kentucky children in state care live with a relative or foster family. (Photo from @5byseven/Twenty20, via PNS)

However, Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said that while more family members are taking care of a niece, nephew or grandchild, they aren’t able to access state resources.

“The particular issue in Kentucky is that kinship supports have not caught up with kinship realities,” he said, “so you have this rising number of kids living with a grandma or a grandpa, or an aunt or an uncle, and yet we as a state don’t have good support for them, unless they’re foster parents.”

While the state is seeing a rise in kinship placements, the report found Kentucky had the lowest rate among states in using relative foster care – that is, relatives who also are licensed foster parents.

Rob Geen, director of policy and advocacy reform for the Casey Foundation, said placing children with families is critical to success later in life.

“When children are placed with relatives, they’re more likely to finish school, they’re more likely to be employed or find employment later, they’re less likely to become early parents,” he said. “They’re more likely to succeed in families when they have families of their own. That is one trend which is really important; we’re using relatives more.”

The good news, Brooks said, is that Kentucky mirrors the national trend in its efforts to boost family care and avoid putting children in institutions – but more needs to be done, especially for black and Hispanic children and teenagers.

“And to me,” he said, “the bad news of this report, or the challenging news of this report is, if we believe that every kid needs a family, so do adolescents and so do kids of color.”

The report said the use of group homes and institutions in Kentucky has fallen over time for white children, but has risen for black and multiracial children.

The report is online at aecf.org.

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One Comment

  1. Sandy Hamilton says:

    I’m sure many of these fictive caregivers know excellent families wanting to adopt these children. As a grandmother caring for an infant, that was my case. A legal adoption was completed at 4 months old. However, Kenton County CPS stepped in and had the baby returned to me. It took another 4 1/2 months to be able to give them the baby. Terrible abuse of power! Changes need to be made to prevent CPS over-riding parental wishes for their children. As a side note, the CPS workers have never met the adoptive family. It was a horrible thing to go through. However, it was well worth it as the baby and her permanent family are so happy and in love! A bonus is that we are all family now and I get to be her loving grandma!

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