As the state celebrates National Adoption Month, Governor Dannel P. Malloy today joined state Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Joette Katz to stress the importance of finding homes for teenagers in foster care. Among the major reforms underway at DCF is the increased use of relatives and kin (non-family members who have an existing relationship with a child). More than 40 percent of children in Connecticut's foster care system are now living with a relative or other person they know. But there are still youths, mostly teenagers, in congregate care who could be placed with a family with the proper supports, and there also are siblings living in separate foster homes who could be together in the right home.
"Connecticut's foster care system has made substantial progress -- with nearly 19 percent fewer children overall and greater use of family homes instead of group settings," said Governor Malloy. "The next step is securing more homes for teenagers in the state's foster care system. Traditionally, it has been harder to find homes for teenagers. Parenting a teenager is hard work, but these are wonderful youths who can bring joy and meaning to a family."
While finding family resources for teens remains a challenge, there have been a number of important advances in the state's foster care system. The percentage of children in care living with relatives and kin increased from 21 percent in January 2011 to 30.3 percent in September 2013, an increase of 44.3 percent. There has also been a decrease of 18.3 percent in the total number of children in care as well as a decrease in the use of group or "congregate" settings.
"As the number of children in care declines, teenagers continue to constitute a large portion of the children who remain in state care," said Commissioner Katz. "Further improvements to the system will require addressing their needs for homes and families. Children age 12 and older make up more than half the total number of children in state care, so this age group has to be a priority even as we make improvements in the system overall. National Adoption Month is a good time to focus on teens and other children with special needs. These children deserve a loving home and have a lot of love to give in return."