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Report: Oregon outpaces US in foster kids with families


More foster youths are being placed in families across the country, and Oregon is ahead of the national effort, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The proportion of kids in foster care who were placed with families rather than in group homes rose from 81% in 2007 to 86% in 2017, the report said, and Oregon fared even better. Numbers rose from 91% to 94% over that same period, which is among the highest rates in the nation.

Chris Coughlin, legislative director for Children First for Oregon, said placement with a family or relative is important, because removing a young person from their biological family is a traumatic experience.

“Being in a family setting is the best place for healing to happen,” she said, “and to help children and youth have positive role models and positive connections with adults.”

Coughlin said these meaningful connections are critical as kids age out of the foster-care system. Research has shown they’re more likely to finish school and get jobs, and less likely to become early parents. Last year, President Donald Trump signed the Family First Prevention Services Act, which prioritizes family placement. Coughlin said Oregon is in the process of implementing this law.

The report showed that children nationwide are more likely to be placed with people related to them, growing from 25% to 32% in a decade. Rob Geen, the Casey Foundation’s director of policy and advocacy reform, said that has been an important development.

“One of the main reasons why we’re seeing this improvement is that states are placing more children with relatives,” he said. “When a child can’t live with their own birth families, a relative is always the first choice, and states are doing a much better job with that.”

However, he added that progress has been slower for children of color and for teens. According to the report, 95% of children age 12 and younger were placed with families in 2017, compared with 58% of kids 13 and older.

The report is online at

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