TFI partners with KU to cut down on foster care runaways

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Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 2:30 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - TFI has partnered with the University of Kansas to cut down on the number of foster children who run away from their home placements.

TFI says children in foster care run away from placements for many reasons, but it almost always comes down to the need for family, connection, belonging and normalcy.

Recently, TFI said it joined the University of Kansas to provide legislative testimony about their recent partnership to address the issue of children missing from foster care placement to the joint Kansas Child Welfare Oversight Committee.

During the testimony, the pair discussed their partnership to identify and mitigate the factors that contribute to the decision to run from foster care placements.

“The youth we interviewed were very clear that when they are provided with the support necessary to sustain relationships important to them when they receive high-quality care in placements that feel like a good fit for them, and when they are allowed voice and choice in their care, they are more likely to remain stable in placements,” said Kaela Byers, associate research professor and principal investigator of the study.

TFI said it has utilized recommendations and results from the KU School of Social Welfare research to build protective factors and address risk factors. It reported to the legislature that it has implemented Placement Stability Team Decision Making to hear from both youth and families in making placement decisions.

As a result, the organization said it has seen positive progress to reduce the frequency of missing youth from placement. Recently, one region that it covers went 53 straight days with no children missing from placement.

“One child missing from placement is one too many,” said Senior Vice President Rachelle Roosevelt. “That’s why we are working continuously to address this dire issue. TFI has seen significant improvement and we will continue to work in that direction to promote child safety and well-being. That is always our top priority.”

TFI said it has also seen the following additional positive results in case management:

  • Area 4 and Area 8 have seen a reduction in the number of children entering foster care.
  • Last quarter, 36.7% of children in Area 4 that were kept in their home school when placed in care. In Area 8, 32.1% of children were kept in their home school while the goal had been set at just 25%.
  • Area 4 has exceeded its goal of having more than 78% of children placed with at least one sibling.
  • Area 4 and Area 8 have exceeded their goal of having more than 50% of kids in a kinship placement.

TFI is a child welfare nonprofit that provides experience, compassion, quality services and care.