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Report Gives Montana High Marks For Foster Care Placement

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New data says Montana does a good job at placing placing kids in its child welfare system with relatives or foster families, which is seen as preferable to placements in group homes.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count report says that, nationwide, about 84% of kids in the child welfare system are placed with relatives or foster families. Montana does a little better than that, says Jennifer Calder, with Montana Kids Count.

"Of the 2,200 children in the child welfare system in our state, 90% were placed with family, and about 9% were in group placement, which is about 200 children."

The foundation’s report says that, nationwide, 40% of kids placed into group homes have no clinical need to be there, and those placements are harmful to children. It also says group placements are seven to 10 times more expensive than family or foster family placements.

The highest rate of group home placements is 35% in Colorado, the lowest is in Oregon at 4%. Among all states, Montana’s rate is 11th best.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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