This Saturday, the state of California will begin limiting the number of children each foster family can have to 6 children total–whether they are foster, biological, and/or adopted children. Officials hope this new limit will improve the quality of service children receive while in foster care.
Just yesterday we posted a news article detailing this change on our Facebook wall. Already, there has been an outpouring of comments related to this significant change. The comments received have been mixed–several who spent time in care themselves advocate this is a much-needed change, while others with personal experience provide opposing opinions.
The fact of the matter is that limiting the number of children in foster homes is not a new concept. The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning looked into this issue and published a list by state of limitations on the number of children in foster homes. Their most recent report shows that the majority of states also have a limit of 6 children total in homes. While some state have limits as low as 4 or as high as 8 children, there are other requirements based on factors such as special needs or mental health diagnoses.
Recently, Florida was in the news after a 17-month old child died in a foster home due to overcrowding. This led to the creation of a task-force to investigate foster homes with more than 5 children.
On the other side of the coin, we also cannot ignore that there is a severe gap in the number of children in care and the number of licensed foster homes across the nation. Already, over 75,000 children currently in foster care live in group homes or institutions. Research and common sense tell us that children need the structure and support that a family provides. Recruitment is one topic CCAI will be exploring this year during a May Congressional briefing in celebration of National Foster Care Month.