One of our goals at Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is to strengthen the child welfare system to improve conditions for the children and youth in foster care and help create healthier family relationships. A critical part of that work is compiling our annual “State of Child Welfare” data, which helps gauge the performance of Pennsylvania's child welfare system in meeting the needs of the children and families the system serves.
Each year, we gather comprehensive data for each of the 67 counties, including information on foster care placements, children leaving or re-entering foster care, and efforts to reunify children with parents or relatives.
Just this month, we released the 2016 State of Child Welfare data. Among the notable findings:
Reports of Child Abuse
Overall reports of suspected child abuse have increased 18.9 percent since 2010. While this increase can at first seem alarming, the passage of over two dozen child protection laws between 2013 through 2015 has increased public awareness and responsibilities of mandated reporters of child abuse.
The proportion of Pennsylvania foster children remaining in a congregate care setting has decreased from 20 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015. This downward trend is important for foster children because research shows that children living in family care settings have better educational outcomes and are more likely to exit foster care into a permanent family setting.
About 1 in 5 youth age 16-20 had a permanency goal of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) in 2015. APPLA is generally recognized as the least desirable permanency goal for foster youth and should only be considered if other options such as reunification, adoption or legal guardianship have been ruled out. During 2015, 76 percent of children leaving foster care with a goal of APPLA exited to non-permanent arrangements.
Looking ahead, PPC will be using some of this data to help shape public policy regarding the use of congregate care and APPLA, with the goal of improving the foster care system to better serve children and families.
You can learn more and review comprehensive data for the commonwealth and each of its 67 counties by visiting PPC’s website.
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