By Suzanne Potter
This story was originally published by Public News Service
CARSON CITY – More than 3,000 children in Nevada are in foster care – and a recent study recommends that much more be done to keep them in family placements and out of group homes.
Researchers interviewed dozens of youths in foster care and found that congregate settings can traumatize abused kids even further.
Report co-author Sixto Cancel, founder and CEO of the nonprofit “Think of Us,” said the money states spend on more-expensive group homes would be better spent recruiting more foster families and helping family caregivers step up.
“How might we actually save money on group-home placements, which can literally range between $300 to $1,000 a day depending on the facility?” asked Cancel. “And let’s go ahead and actually invest in families to keep them together.”
Over the weekend, the Children’s Advocacy Alliance of Nevada published an op-ed calling on the state to use some of the $2 billion in federal funding it has received to fix the foster-care system.
They say the state’s computer tracking system is woefully inadequate, and note that a shortage of placements and pediatric mental-health specialists means some Nevada children are sent out of state for care.
Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez is vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Center for Systems Innovation. She said the personal stories in the report should motivate policymakers to prioritize this issue.
“What this report did,” said Gasca-Gonzalez, “is bring all of those child welfare statistics to life in a brutal kind of way to show that there is some rawness and some truth that need to be shared so that we can do different and better.”
According to the Guinn Center in Las Vegas, youths in foster care in Clark County receive an average of ten separate placements. And only 47.5% of seniors in foster care manage to graduate high school.