Friends of the Children's Work Along the Continuum: Foster Care Prevention

DID YOU KNOW that Friends of the Children works intentionally with child welfare systems to invite families who’ve already come to their attention to join our program?

Foster Care Prevention Fast Facts:

In 2019, child welfare agencies across the country received approximately 4.4 million reports alleging child abuse or neglect. From those reports, 656,000 children were confirmed as having experienced neglect or abuse. About 75% of victims experienced neglect. Research has found that Black children are 15 percent more likely than White children to be involved in a substantiated child welfare case despite no differences in incidences of maltreatment, and Black families are less likely, compared to White families, to be offered in-home family preservation services.

Though many states have adopted strategies to prevent foster care, investments in supports that promote safe, strong families are less robust than those invested in surveillance and removal. In its 11th national survey to identify trends in child welfare funding sources and agency spending, Child Trends found child welfare agencies spent an average of 45% of expenditures on out-of-home foster care placements, while only 15% were spent on preventative services. The passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act (“FFPSA”) holds promise for more investment in prevention; however, FFPSA is limited in that services are not allowed before families become known to child welfare.

Friends as a Foster Care Prevention Strategy

In our last email, we talked about our 2Gen approach and how we support youth and families to build and enhance their strengths together before they come to the attention of the child welfare system.

In addition, Friends of the Children also intentionally invites families who already have come to the attention of the child welfare system – those about whom calls to the child welfare hotline have been made or families who already have received voluntary in-home services – to have a Friend. When parents say “yes” to our 12+ year program, we focus first on earning their trust, prioritizing goals parents have for their children and meeting concrete needs that enrich and stabilize households. In the second and third years with our program, we invite parents to set goals for themselves, placing an emphasis on parent skill development and career and education pathways. All along the way, we create safe spaces for youth and caregivers to build positive relationships and connect with community.

In 2020, independent researchers from ICF surveyed caregivers about the impact Friends have on their lives and the lives of their children.

By tapping into the inherent strength and resilience of our caregivers, Friends support them to recognize themselves as their child's greatest resource.