1,800 fewer kids in Pa. foster care as family programs pay off

    The number of kids entering foster care in Pennsylvania is declining — along with an ongoing reduction in the foster care population, according to a new report from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, an independent nonprofit. 

    The decrease of nearly 2,000 may indicate programs designed to keep kids safely in their own homes are working.

    An approach such as General Protective Services, or GPS, allows the child welfare system to help families in need address issues before abuse might occur.

    It makes sense, says Dr. David Rubin, a co-director of PolicyLab at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

    It works by trying to “tailor the services that they provide families to exactly what they need and not overburden families with involvement in the child welfare system when things can be handled in more efficient ways with just the provision of services to get families … back on track a little bit,” Rubin said.

    Pennsylvania’s approach to foster care emphasizes placing children in family settings, preferably with relatives, rather than in group homes or institutions.

    Challenges still remain, Rubin says.

    “We don’t have good monitoring systems in place to make sure that kids don’t slip through the crack as there are major changes in the way that we deliver child welfare service to kids in the city,” he said.

    The report shows 1,800 fewer children are in foster care statewide this year than last.

    There are signs, though, that the state’s efforts to safely reduce those cases may have reached a plateau.

    Download reports from the five-county region: 

    2012 State of Child Welfare Report

    Bucks County

    Chester County

    Delaware County

    Montgomery County

    Philadelphia

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