TOPEKA — Youth in foster care run away from placements for many reasons, but it almost always boils down to the need for family, connection, belonging and normalcy.
Last week, TFI Family Services and the University of Kansas provided legislative testimony about their recent partnership to address the issue of children missing from foster care placement to the joint Kansas Child Welfare Oversight Committee.
During this testimony, TFI and KU reported how they worked to identify and mitigate the factors that contribute to a youth’s decision to run from foster care placement.
“The youth we interviewed were very clear that when they are provided with the supports necessary to sustain relationships important to them, when they receive high-quality care in placements that feel like a good fit for them, and when they are allowed voice and choice in their care, they are more likely to remain stable in placements,” said Kaela Byers, associate research professor of social welfare and principal investigator of the study.
TFI is utilizing the recommendations and results from KU’s School of Social Welfare research to make changes in practice to build protective factors and address risk factors. TFI reported to the legislative committee that they implemented Placement Stability Team Decision Making in January 2022 to hear from both youth and their families in making placement decisions. As a result, TFI has seen positive progress in reducing frequency of missing youth from placement. Recently, Area 8 went 53 consecutive days with zero children missing from placement.
“One child missing from placement is one too many,” said Rachelle Roosevelt, senior vice president of TFI. “That’s why we are working continuously to address this dire issue. TFI has seen significant improvement, and we will continue to work in that direction to promote child safety and well-being. That is always our top priority.”
TFI has also seen additional positive results in case management in areas 4 and 8. Area 4 comprises most of southeast Kansas. Area 8 includes Barber, Butler, Cowley, Elk, Greenwood, Harper, Kingman, Pratt and Sumner counties.
- Area 4 and Area 8 have seen a reduction in the number of children entering foster care.
- Last quarter, 36.7% of children in Area 4 were kept in their home school when placed in care, while 32.1% of children in Area 8 were kept in their home school (goal 25%).
- Area 4 has exceeded their goal of having more than 78% of children placed with at least one sibling.
- Area 4 and Area 8 have exceeded their goal of having more than 50% of kids in kinship placement.