Letter from Dr. William C. Bell, Casey Family Programs President and CEO
We are living in a time of profound transformation in America, a time that can yield dramatic, sustainable improvements in our capacity to ensure the safety and success of all of our children.
For this transformation to occur, hope is essential.
We know that hope is possible, because we see evidence of hope in communities across this nation. From the unprecedented coalition known as Cities United, where mayors have joined together to reduce the violence-related deaths of young, African-American men on the streets of their cities to a rural community in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky that is drawing on the strength of neighbors to help drug-addicted mothers pull their lives – and families – back together, we are restoring hope across America.
We can see the evidence of an emerging hopefulness through the amazing efforts of our collegues in philanthropy and the dynamic partnerships between government, philanthropy, business, and communities such as the My Brother’s Keeper initiative recently announced by President Obama.
We know that hope is possible as we are seeing the lives of vulnerable children and their families changed through the work of child welfare and other public systems across the United States. Their success in safely reducing the need for foster care and building a sense of hope in their communities has led to a deeper understanding of what it takes not only to achieve and sustain progress, but to go beyond it to create a remarkable transformation of human capacity. There are approximately 120,000 fewer children living in foster care today than there were in 2005.
And along with the reduced use of foster care the key measures of child safety have either improved or remained the same, indicating that child welfare’s increased focus on prevention, in-home support, and building stronger community partnerships has helped more children have the opportunity to grow up in safe, stable families.
Child welfare systems across the nation are succeeding in safely reducing the need for foster care. These changes are taking place in communities that represent the broad spectrum of America:
- In Baltimore, children requiring placement in foster care dropped from 5,906 in 2005 to 2,139 in 2012 – a remarkable reduction of 64 percent. Maryland, as a whole, showed significant improvements too. The reason, in part, is a statewide initiative called “Place Matters” that promotes safety, family strengthening, permanency and community-based services to keep families intact and safely reduce the need for out-of-home care.
- In Lorain County, Ohio, local leaders were able to change their entire approach to serving children and families, thanks to a collective vision for change and the participation of a broad group of community stakeholders. Over the past decade, the county has seen a rise in adoptions, a steep drop in foster care numbers and greatly improved child safety.
- In Minnesota, improvements made by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians led to an increase in the percentage of children served in their parents’ homes; an increase in the percent of out-of-home care in relatives’ homes; and a decrease in the percentage of children in non-native, out-of-home care.