Safely Reduce the Number of Children and Youth in Out-of-Home Care by Half

  • Children and Youth in Out-of-Home Care

    One of DCYF’s strategic priorities is to safely reduce the number of children and youth in out-of-home care. The outcome indicator for this priority is the number of children and youth in out-of-home care. In SFY 2021, one third of the 11,722 children and youth under age 18 who were placed in out-of-home care for one or more days were under three years old.

    Although the number of children and youth in out-of-home care at any single point in time is far fewer than the number who experience any out-of-home care over the course of the year, by either measure, the number has been declining. On the last day of the state fiscal year, 2021, there were 6,952 children and youth in out-of-home care. At that time, 46.9 percent of all children and youth under 18 in out-of-home care were placed with kin or relatives.

    Number of Children/Youth Who Experienced Out-of-Home Care, by Age, SFY 2021
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    Children and Youth under 18 in Out-of-Home Care, SFY 2011-2021
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  • Re-Entry into Care

    When children must be removed from their families, DCYF strives to move them into permanent homes as quickly as is safely possible and to support reunification and other permanency goals so that children do not return to out-of-home care. In state fiscal year 2019, 7.3 percent of children who were reunified or placed in a guardianship within 12 months of their placement into out-of-home care, re-entered care in the following 12 months. The federal target is 7 percent or less. DCYF monitors re-entry into care as a balancing indicator for safely reducing the number of children and youth in out-of-home care.

    Children Who Re-Enter Care within 12 Months of Exit, SFY 2010-2019
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  • Reunification

    DCYF additionally monitors reunification rate as a balancing indicator for safely reducing the number of children and youth in out-of-home care. In order to reunify children and families as quickly as possible, DCYF works with parents to mitigate the safety threats that necessitate children’s removal from their parent’s care.  In state fiscal year 2021, 3,112 children were reunified with their families.  While the number of children reunified varies slightly from year to year, the percent of children exiting care to reunification has remained fairly stable at just over 60% of total exits for the last several years.

    Percent and Number of Children Reunified Annually, SFY 2010-2021
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    Percent of Children Reunified Annually, by Race/Ethnicity, SFY 2010-2021
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  • Rate of CPS Response

    The rate at which children and youth are referred for maltreatment is a driver for the number of children and youth in out-of-home care. DCYF is therefore monitoring the rate at which children require a response from CPS. From a prevention standpoint, if parents are supported in meeting the needs of their children and youth, they will experience improved outcomes in safety and well-being.

    Note: CPS response rates are also reported as a Child Outcome Goal.

    Children and Youth (Age 0-17) Requiring a CPS Response, per 1,000, 2010-2020
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  • Permanency

    Permanency within 12 months of entering care is another driver indicator for number of children and youth in out-of-home care. DCYF works to achieve permanency for children as quickly and safely as possible. The goal is to reunify children with their families when parents demonstrate that they are able to safely care for their children. When children cannot be safely reunified, DCYF makes efforts to achieve permanency through adoption and guardianship as quickly as possible. Of children who were removed from their parents in state fiscal year 2020, 40 percent were able to achieve permanency within 12 months of their placement out of their parent’s home; the federal target is 37.9 percent or more. Over 94 percent of the children achieving permanency within 12 months were reunified with their families.

    Children Placed in Safe and Permanent Homes Within 12 Months of Entering Care, SFY 2010-2020
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  • Entries to and Exits from Out-of-Home Care

    Numbers of children and youth entering and exiting out-of-home placement is another driver indicator for number of children and youth in out-of-home care. The number of children and youth entering out-of-home care has been declining since 2017. In SFY 2021, 4,164 children and youth entered out-of-home care, while 4,821 exited.

    To standardize the numbers of entries to and exits from out-of-home care for better comparison, DCYF is tracking the ratio of out-of-home care entries to exits as a driver indicator for the number of children and youth in out-of-home care. Ratios below 1 indicate that more children and youth exited than entered care.

    Children Entering and Exiting Out of Home Placement, SFY 2010-2021
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    Ratio of Out-of-Home Care Entries to Exits, SFY 2010-2021
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  • Out-of-Home Care Length of Stay

    DCYF strives to return children and youth home as soon as safely possible, and when this is not possible – to place them in an alternate permanent home.  The agency monitors the median length of stay for children in out-of-home care as a driver indicator for the number of children and youth in out-of-home care.  In state fiscal year 2019, the most recent year that can be reported, the median length of stay was 521 days, a decrease of 75 days from the previous year.

    Median Length of Stay (in Days) in Out-of-Home Care, SFY 2010-2019
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