Foster Care in Utah

 

It must be terrifying for an at-risk child to wake up one morning and find themselves in the court system, in foster care.  They need an advocate to make sure their voice is heard.

Children under the age of 18 living in foster care on September 30 of each year:

 

Keeping children safe

Safety and effective response go hand in hand. Most children enter foster care due to neglect and other reasons — not because of physical or sexual abuse. We talk about a “foster care system,” but in fact the vast majority of children who come to the attention of child welfare officials are not placed in foster care. In Utah — and around the nation — the goal is to help vulnerable children grow up in safe, stable and loving families.

In Utah, providing targeted and effective interventions as soon as possible can safely prevent the need for foster care and better ensure that children who suffer any kind of maltreatment are not harmed again.

 

 

 * “Other” includes parental substance abuse, child substance abuse, child disability, child behavior problems, parent death, parent incarceration, caretaker inability to cope, relinquishment or inadequate housing.

Nearly half of Utah’s 2700 children in foster care are age 11 or older.

In FY2015, nearly 10% of children leaving Utah’s foster care system did so due to aging out. “Aging out” means a child is 18 years or older and is released from the custody of the state or any other guardian. These youth are considered to be legally independent.

Teens who “age out” have been in foster care an average of 40 months (more than 3 years).

The average length of stay for all children in foster care is 12 months.

The primary reason children, including teens, are placed into foster care is because of abuse and/or neglect in their biological homes.  Keeping brothers and sisters together is extremely important in children’s lives.

There is a need for families willing to foster/adopt more than one child and to foster/adopt children across a broad range of ages.

In FY2015, 604 children were adopted from the foster care system in Utah alone.  Most of the children adopted from foster care are adopted by their foster parents.  While children 12 and older make up about half of all children in foster care, this group accounts for only 14% of children adopted from foster care.  Older youth are less likely to live in a family setting than the overall population of children in foster care.

Children placed outside a family setting are less likely to form the kind of lasting relationships with responsible adults that will help them move towards independence.

National statistic: Of youth who “age out” of foster care, less than half graduate from high school at the time they are discharged.  Only a few more get their high school diplomas 2-4 years later.

Children who “age out” of foster care are more likely to experience unemployment, early pregnancy, homelessness, and incarceration than their peers.

In Utah, foster parents may be married or single. They may own or rent their homes.

It takes 32 hours of in-class training and the ability to pass a criminal background check to become a foster parent.

Utah Foster Care and the Utah Division of Child & Family Services provide ongoing training to foster and adoptive parents statewide.

Utah Foster Care is a private, non-profit organization contracted by the Division of Child & Family Services (DCFS) to find, educate, and support foster and adoptive families to care for the children in Utah’s foster care system.