The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Foster Care

The United States foster care system was in a bad financial condition even before the current economic crisis. Last fall the Washington Post reported that “in nearly every state… the cost of providing basic care for a foster child exceeds the government's foster-care reimbursement rate.” Researchers at the University of Maryland, who conducted the study, factored in basic needs such as food and clothing. The ensuing economic crisis has likely halted plans for any future government increase in funding for children currently in foster care.

Poverty, homelessness and unemployment are some of the main contributing factors to children being placed in foster care. Considering the current economic condition across the country, many experts believe it is possible that the number of children entering foster care will rise in the coming months. The American foster care system is already facing challenges due to a lack of funding and workers. It is difficult to recruit and hold on to trained social workers who might improve the experiences of children in foster homes, which have gained a reputation as being unsafe in recent years. Further, the economic downturn takes a toll on struggling families; the number of children and youth entering and remaining in foster care is expected to increase as the economy worsens. Child welfare workers are already seeing a rise in reported child abuse and neglect cases, with increases of more than 20 percent in some areas.

The economic downturn also exacerbates challenges to self sufficiency faced by young people who age out – or are poised to age out – of foster care. As employment opportunities decline and state budgets shrink, more of these young people who often have minimal skills and inadequate educational preparation will be left to chart a future alone.

We've posted a collection of articles that touch on this subject and will continue to post information as we receive it.

National News
New Research Confirms the Recession Will Have a Lasting Impact on Children, First Focus, Nov 15, 2010
State Budget Cuts Threaten Child Welfare Programs, NPR, March 3, 2010
Children of the Recession, CBS News, May 21, 2008
America's Children: Protecting the weakest, the Economist, Feb 25, 2010
TURNING POINT: The Long Term Effects of Recession-Induced Child Poverty, First Focus, May 12, 2008
Child abuse spikes as U.S. economy founders, Retuers, April 16, 2008
Child Neglect Cases Multiply As Economic Woes Spread, Washington Post, December 29, 2008
Unsettling Times: The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Children and Families, blogtalkradio & Child Welfare League of America, April 22, 2009, 11:00AM
More Child Abuse Cases in Bad Economy, MY FOX MEMPHIS, April 17, 2009

Foster mom: Cuts putting kids at risk, White Mountain Independent Online, Mar 24, 2009

Group assists former foster youths, (by the Union Tribune) ,Mar 30, 2009

'Aged-out' foster youth at terrible risk, San Francisco Chronicle, Sept 2, 2009

Homeless youth numbers on the rise, Ledger Dispatch, March 24, 2009
Economy Producing More Foster Youth, ABC News Channel 10, April 23, 2009

In Tight economy, Kids at Risk, Montrose Daily Press, April 11, 2009

Advocates say Florida's vulnerable populations face potentially ‘devastating’ cuts, News, , March 10, 2010

New York
Too Old for Foster Care, and Facing the Recession, New York Times, April 7, 2009

North Carolina
Number of foster children climbs as economy dips , Mooresville Tribune, June 9, 2009
Foster care endangered by economic slowdown , Ashland Citizen-Times, March 24, 2009

Economy Causes More Children To Need Foster Care, NBC Channel 5 News, Mar 19, 2009
Child Abuse Reports Climb in Ohio, Columbus Dispatch, April 2, 2009

Experts fear economy hurts area foster care, Charlottesville Daily Progress, April 6, 2009

Foster Kids Struggling in Tough Economy, CBS KIMA TV, April 13