Pennsylvania Trends of Children in Care

According to the Porch Light Project Pennsylvania has experienced several positive trends in the past five years.  The “2014 State of Child Welfare” issued by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, which provides a five-year perspective on the performance of the child welfare system, notes that Pennsylvania has reduced its reliance on foster care. “In recent years, Pennsylvania has taken a common-sense approach to help safely reduce the number of children living in foster care and provide more services that enable children to remain safely in their homes. The results have been encouraging. Pennsylvania’s child welfare system is serving more children today than it did five years ago, but we are relying much less on foster care placement as an intervention. While 29,024 children were served in foster care in 2009, the number fell to 21,416 in 2013 — a 26 percent decline. The number of children receiving in-home services increased by 11 percent in the same period — from 155,264 children in 2009 to 172,518 in 2013.”

Among children placed into foster care, Pennsylvania’s state and county officials continue to rely more on family-based settings rather than group homes or institutions. In 2009, about 26 percent of foster children were placed in congregate care settings. By 2013, congregate care placements had dropped to less than 20 percent.

Children By Foster Care Placement Setting (Source: AFCARS Report)

2009 2013
Family Setting 68.5% 73.4%
Group Home 12.7% 12.1%
Institution 13.2% 7.5%
Other 5.6% 7.1%

Another positive trend noted in “2014 State of Child Welfare” is steady progress in finding permanent homes for foster children, including increased adoptions, which leads to reduced length of time in care. “Most notably, large gains have been made in the percentage of children being adopted — and those children are being adopted at a faster rate. In 2009, the median length of stay until a child was adopted was more than 31 months. By 2013, the median length of stay had decreased to 26 months — a 15 percent reduction.”