Is Foster Care “In the Best Interest of the Child”? Not on your Life!

medically-kidnapped-children[1]

The philosophy of “best interest of the child” sounds so very wonderful. It must keep children safe and help them to be successful for the remainder of their lives. Taking them from horrible parents, away from the abuse/neglect and placing them with foster parents in wonderful foster homes is the true solution to one of society’s worst corruptions.

Arizona Revised Statute A.R.S.25-403. Legal decision-making; best interests of child

  1. In a contested legal decision-making or parenting time case, the court shall make specific findings on the record about all relevant factors and the reasons for which the decision is in the “best interests of the child.”

So, let us look at the National Foster Care Outcomes achieved from this wonderful intervention strategy to save children and put them on the road to a life of success. It must be exciting since we have federal funding that helps support this special cause, our future.

National Foster Care Outcomes

  • On September 30, 2012 there were approximately 397,122 children were in the foster care system. (1)
  • In the General Population of people that are 25 years of age or older, there are 31% that have a Bachelor’s degree (2)
  •  In the former foster children population that are age 25 and older, there are 3% that have a Bachelor’s degree (3)
  •  In the former foster children* population incarcerated since age 17: Males: 64% percent, Females: 32.5% percent. (4)
  • In the former foster children* population there are 24% percent who experience homelessness after aging out of the system. (5)
  • In the former foster children* population there are 61% percent who are unemployed one year after aging out. (6)
  • In the former foster children* population there are 53.5% who are unemployed five years after aging out. (7)

Question: Is it in the “best interest of children” from foster care to have 3 out of 100 with a Bachelor’s degree? Or 61 out of 100 unemployed? Or 24 out of 100 homeless? Or 64 out of 100 males incarcerated? Or 32.5 out of 100 females incarcerated?

Those outcomes do not seem to be in the best interest of these former foster care children.

America is:

  • 26th of 29 among developed nations based on measures of child welfare. (8)
  • 25th of 27 among developed nations based on the rate of child deaths from abuse and neglect. (9)

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration of Children & Families, Administration on Children, Youth & Families, Children’s Bureau identified:

(10) “Children Entering Foster Care during FY 2013,” was N = 254,904.

  • White children N = 114,666                                          45%
  • Black/African-American children N = 54,835               22%
  • Hispanic children N = 53,786                                        21%
  • American-Indian children N = 5,456                             2%

A national study of child protective services by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that “minority children, and in particular African American children, are more likely to be in foster care placement than receive in-home services, even when they have the same problems and characteristics as white children”. (12)

Child Trends Data Bank, Foster Care December 2014 pg. 5 (11)

  • Non-Hispanic white children, who made up about 52 percent of American children under age 18, accounted for 42 percent of foster children in 2013.
  • Black children, who made up around 14 percent of all children, accounted for 24 percent of foster children in that year.
  • Hispanics (who can be of any race), who were 24 percent of U.S. children, accounted for 22 percent of foster children in 2013. [6]

See more at: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=foster-care#sthash.IzaMNls5.dpuf

Dorothy Roberts, a professor at Northwestern University’s School of Law, shares:

  • “If you came with no preconceptions about the purpose of the child welfare system, you would have to conclude that it is an institution designed to monitor, regulate, and punish poor families of color.” (12)
  • Black children make up more than two-fifths of the foster care population, though they represent less than one-fifth of the nation’s children.” (12)
  • Black children in New York were 10 times as likely as white children to be in state protective custody.” (12)
  • “According to federal statistics, Black children in the child welfare system are placed in foster care at twice the rate for white children.” (12)
  • “And once removed from their homes, black children remain in foster care longer, are moved more often, receive fewer services, and are less likely to be either returned home or adopted than any other children.” (12)

Well, surely the outcomes for Arizona’s Foster Care children will be significantly better than the national statistics. Remember we actually have a law, A.R.S. 25-403, that assures taxpayers that Arizona’s outcomes will demonstrate the spirit of “best interest of the child,” right?

Arizona Foster Care Outcomes

According to Children’s Action Alliance, as of January 9th, 2015, the Arizona Department of Child Safety records share:

  • 53% growth in the number of children in Foster Care from June 2008 to October 14, 2014. (13)
  • June 2008 there were 9,148 children in Foster Care and in October 2014 there were 17,184 children in Foster Care. (13)
  • In June of 2009 there were 5,509 families receiving In-Home Services and in November of 2014 there were 8,712 families receiving In-Home Services. (13)

Question: Is it in the best interest of the children in Arizona to have a 53% increase in the number in foster care? Or is that in the state’s financial best interest?

Question: Is in the best interest of children to have a 53% increase in the number of children in foster care and only a 27% increase in the In-Home Services provided to families?

It would not be unreasonable for an outsider to wonder if the state philosophy to reduce families getting In-Home Services had something to do with increasing the number of children in foster care. Would that be in the “best interest of children”?

According to Children’s Action Alliance, as of January 13th, 2015, the Arizona Department of Child Safety records share:

  • 2,144 children in foster care did not receive required monthly visit from DCS in September, 2014 (14)
  • 1,213 Parents with a case plan to reunify with their children did not receive required monthly visit from DCS in September, 2014 (14)
  • 448 foster homes did not receive required quarterly visit from their licensing agency between April 2014 and September 2014. (14)

Question: Is it in the “best interest of the child” to not have received the required monthly visit from the Department of Child Safety? Is it in the “best interest of the child” to not have received the required monthly visit to Parents in the reunification process?

Question: Is it in the “best interest of the child” to not have the quarterly visit from the agency that licenses the foster home to check on accountability outcomes in that foster home

  • African American children represent 4.8% of population yet 13.9% are in out-of-home care. (15)
  • Children with an adoption case plan spend on average 25.1 months in out-of-home care. (15)
  • 23.9% children in foster care have been in out-of-home care for 13 to 24 months. (Arizona Department of Economic Security, “Child Welfare Reporting Requirements Semi-Annual Report for the Period of Apr. 1, 2014 through Sep. 30, 2014”; 2010 U.S. Census Data) (15)
  • Average number of placements was 2.3, and the range for the number of placements was 1 to 43. (15)

Question: Is it in the “best interest of the child” that is African-American to be represented three times more in foster care than in the general population?

Question: Is it in the “best interest of the child” for children to spend over two years in out-of-home care?

Conclusions:

Maybe I do not understand the true meaning of what is in the “best interest of children.”

For the life of me I cannot fathom or understand how taking children from their natural parents and natural families for the rest of their childhood is in their best interest.

Taking their identity, their heritage, their beliefs, their religion, and even their name and social security numbers away in the name of “best interest of the child” does not seem reasonably to be in their best interest.

Why?

Why does the Arizona Department of Child Safety ignore “Kinship Care”?

The Child Welfare League of America has successfully focused on this solution for more than 30 years that I am aware of and yet Arizona ignores one of the most positive, healthy, and successful methods for keeping children safe.

“Every day hundreds of thousands of grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings, and non-related extended family members step in to keep children safe and nurtured when their parents cannot. CWLA defines kinship care as the full-time protecting and nurturing of children by grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, older siblings, non-related extended family members, and anyone to whom children and parents ascribe a family relationship, or who ‘go for kin’. Within this definition there are two populations of kinship families: (a) informal, where children live with grandparents or other relatives and are not in child protective service custody; and (b) formal, where children are placed in the care of a relative or non-related extended family member under the auspices of a public child welfare agency. Whether informally arranged among family members or formally supported by the child welfare system, it is essential to affirm and support the considerable contributions of kinship caregivers.” (16)

 References:

  1. xix. The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau, available at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/afcarsreport20.pdf (estimates as of Nov. 2013).
  2. National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics: 2012 (table 8), available at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_008.asp?referrer=report (2012)
  3. Foster Care by the Numbers, Casey Family Programs, Sept. 2011, available at http://www.casey.org/media/MediaKit_FosterCareByTheNumbers.pdf
  4. xxiv. Courtney, M., Dworsky, A., Brown, A., Cary, C., Love, K., Vorhies, V. (2011). Midwest evaluation of the adult functioning of former foster youth: Outcomes at age 26. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
  5. World Bank, World Development Indicators Database, Total GDP 2011, at 1, http://databank.worldbank.org/data/views/reports/tableview.aspx (2012).
  6. Calculated by finding average of unemployed former foster youth males (60%) and females (62%) at age 19. See Hook, J. L. & Courtney, M. E. (2010). Employment of Former Foster Youth as Young Adults: Evidence from the Midwest Study. Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
  7. Calculated by finding average of unemployed former foster youth males (54%) and females (53%) at age 24. See Hook, J. L. & Courtney, M. E., Employment of Former Foster Youth as Young Adults: Evidence from the Midwest Study. Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago (2010).
  8. Calculated from rankings in overall well-being. See UNICEF, “Child well-being in rich countries: A league table of inequality in child well-being,” Innocenti Report Card 11, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence, available at http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/rc11_eng.pdf (2011).
  9. UNICEF, “A league table of child maltreatment deaths in rich nations,” Innocenti Report Card 5, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence, available at http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/repcard5e.pdf (2003).
  10. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Administration of Children & Families, Administration on Children, Youth & Families, Children’s Bureau identified; “Children Entering Foster Care during FY 2013”
  11. Child Trends Data Bank, Foster Care December 2014 pg. 5 http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=foster-care#sthash.IzaMNls5.dpuf
  12. Race and Class in the Child Welfare System by Dorothy Roberts; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/fostercare/caseworker/roberts.html
  13. Children’s Action Alliance, January 9th, 2015, the Arizona Department of Child Safety Records http://azchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Receiving-Required-Visits-for-Children-in-Foster-Care.pdf
  14. Children’s Action Alliance, January 9th, 2015, the Arizona Department of Child Safety Records
  15. http://azchildren.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Receiving-Required-Visits-for-Children-in-Foster-Care.pdf
  16. CASA of Arizona (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children http://www.azcourts.gov/casa/ChildWelfare/ChildWelfareStats.aspx Arizona Department of Economic Security, “Child Welfare Reporting Requirements Semi-Annual Report for the Period of Apr. 1, 2014 through Sep. 30, 2014”; 2010 U.S. Census Data)
  17. KINSHIP CARE: TRADITIONS OF CARING AND COLLABORATING MODEL OF PRACTICE http://www.cwla.org/kinship-care/

 

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Size of Kansas foster care population up 18 percent

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The size of Kansas’ foster care population has swelled 18 percent over the past six years, and child welfare advocates blame high turnover among caseworkers, parental drug addiction and cuts to programs that help poor families.

“I really think something needs to be done,” said Diana Frederick, executive director of Douglas County CASA, the agency that provides volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates to work with abused and neglected children in state custody. “Things are enough of a concern that we need to acknowledge that there is a problem and we need to work together to find a solution.”

Children are usually removed from their homes because of neglect, and leave the foster care system when they rejoin their families, are adopted or reach age 18. State data shows that the 2009 fiscal year is the last time more children were exiting the system each month, 312 on average, than were entering, 260 on average. Since then, the numbers have gradually flipped, with 317 children entering the system on average each month in FY 2015, which ended June 30, and 286 leaving the system.

Over the six-year span, the foster care monthly average jumped to 6,257 children in fiscal year 2015 from 5,317 in 2009, state figures show.

Read more at: Size of Kansas foster care population up 18 percent

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Medical Kidnap: It Happens to Adults Too

Bret Bohn in Seattle

by Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News

Bret Bohn’s family wants the public to know that it is not just children who are being medically kidnapped, being used as medical research lab rats, forced to take drugs, and being kept isolated from their families. They say it happened to their son, too. He was 26 years old at the time.

What began simply enough ended up in an 8 month long nightmare. Bret’s mother Lorraine Phillips told Health Impact News that it was “medical torture” and a “horrific abuse of Government corruption and power.”

From a Simple Surgery to Being Incapacitated by Drug Side Effects

Bret, a native Alaskan and an avid hunter and outdoor sportsman, had surgery to remove some nasal polyps. As a result, he lost his sense of smell, reports Police State USA. Prednisone was prescribed to help him regain his sense of smell. Neither he nor his family realized that one of the powerful steroid’s side effects was insomnia, but he certainly felt the effects of it.

After a period of a week of no sleep, Bret’s parents took him to Providence Alaska Medical Center, where two more drugs were prescribed that were supposed to help calm him and help him sleep.

Bret Bohn outdoors

The Ambien and Ativan were not exactly the magic bullet that he had hoped for. Instead, Bret started having seizures, which his family later learned is listed as one of the side effects of the drugs. He went back to Providence Medical Center, only to see his health quickly deteriorate as he was given more drugs and experienced more seizures.

Despite many tests being run, the hospital staff was unable to reach a diagnosis of Bret’s medical problems. More and more medications were allegedly prescribed, yet the original problem remained – he still couldn’t sleep. There was one stretch of 24 days with no sleep.

In his weakened state, his parents assumed power of attorney, based on a written agreement with their son that was signed in 2007. Among Bret’s impressive list of achievements, he was a member of the National Honor Society as well as an Eagle Scout. He holds two degrees from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He had the foresight to “be prepared” for any emergency in which he might become incapacitated.

Bret Bohn power of attorney doc

Bret Becomes a Medical Prisoner, Unable to Escape

At one point, Bret became frustrated with all the medical treatments, and decided, as an adult, to leave the hospital. He unplugged from the machines, and removed his IV and catheter. His “escape attempt” was reported to the courts.

His parents began to question the course of medical treatment and requested that their son be weaned off of the medications. For a brief period, their request was honored, and Bret got some much-needed sleep, as reported previously by Health Impact NewsIt was short-lived. His parents requested a transfer to another facility for a second opinion. At this time, there was still no diagnosis for his deteriorating health.

It was not long after that, on October 23, 2013, that Providence Medical Center told Bet’s parents that they were restricting their visits with their son, ignoring Bret’s signed power of attorney to his parents.

As the visits with his family decreased, his medications were increasing. When Bret opposed some of the medications, including some that were psychotropic, he was viewed as “disgruntled” and “combative,” sure signs of mental illness. He was confined to the psych ward.

On November 5, 2013, Adult Protective Services filed for emergency guardianship over Bret, accusing his parents of not having his best interests in mind. Judge Erin Marston granted the motion on November 15, refusing to allow any family members to assume the role of his guardian. His previous escape attempt and his family’s attempt to wean him off the medications and find the actual cause of his symptoms were all seen as validation for the state to hold him against his will and remove his basic human rights, according to the family.

Heavily Drugged, and Treated Like a Criminal in State Custody

For a time, visitation was permitted by the state, but there were a number of conditions imposed, though no crime had been committed. According to a document on the Free Bret Bohn Facebook page, these restrictions included:

  • No cell phones, no computers, no working phone in Bret’s room
  • Only Chaplains from Providence hospital permitted. Bret could not have any visitation from his own pastor or ministers
  • No outside sources of Lawyers
  • No letters, cards, balloons, or flowers
  • No Privacy. Visitation supervised
  • Visitors not permitted to whisper, must speak clearly at all times
  • Family forbidden to tell Bret that he was coming home some day
  • At one point his family was told that only one hug was permitted, only upon arrival
  • No body contact, unless approved by Providence
  • Visits expected to be calm, social, and lighthearted in nature
  • Any stress inducing behaviors, whether purposeful or unintentional, would result in an end to the visit
  • Visits limited to one hour, then reduced to 30 minutes, then eliminated altogether
  • Security to accompany visitors to and from the visitation area

The family reports that Bret was heavily medicated during all visits, ranging from the minimum of extremely dilated pupils to being medicated at times “to the point of inability to communicate freely.” His mother reports that he eventually was on at least 22 different drugs, including Resperidone and Haloperiodol, which are powerful anti-psychotic drugs.

Bret Bohn heavily drugged

After Christmas 2013, his family and friends were no longer permitted to visit at all. Though he was an adult, Bret was completely at the mercy of guardians he never agreed to. His 27th birthday came and went on January 12, with no visits from any loved ones permitted according to his family.

Forced Medical Research and Attempt to Escape

Because he was now a ward of the state, he could legally be entered into drug trials and medical research without his knowledge or consent. There was finally a diagnosis, Autoimmune Encephalitis. His family was told that he had irreversible brain damage, and needed treatment in Seattle. He was court-ordered to receive ECT – electroconvulsive therapy, or shock therapy to his brain, against his will.

In late March, Bret was transferred to Harborview Medical Center, a University of Washington facility, in Seattle. There, his parents report, psychiatrists wanted to transfer him to the psych ward. His parents were allowed to visit, and what they found was very disturbing. In an email to Health Impact News, his mother Lorraine describes the horrific situation:

“Bret was crying tears (no voice), spitting out their medications, and begging for his life.”

According to Lorraine, Bret had had enough, and he decided to leave. She and Bret walked out of the hospital in what they hoped was an escape to freedom, and answers.

Three days later the family were seeking a second opinion, when his mother was arrested, charged with kidnapping, and locked up in the King County Jail. Bret was forced back into the hospital.

Defying Alaskan Authorities to Gain Freedom

Lorraine was released without bail the next day, and a new team of doctors were assigned to Bret’s case. They chose not to follow the directions of the Providence hospital, instead doing their own evaluation. That was the beginning of the end of Bret Bohn’s nightmare.

On May 9, Bret was released to the care of his aunt and uncle in Boise. Despite the Alaska Office of Public Advocacy’s insistence that they were in control of Bret, and that he needed to be transferred to a nursing home, Bret himself phoned the Alaska courts on the very day of his discharge from Harborview, requesting Termination of Guardianship.

Bret Bohn with his mom in Seattle

He began weaning off of all the medications that he had been forced to take, and his family and friends report that Bret is finally back to himself again. Despite adamant insistence by the Alaskan authorities, their suspicions that the drugs were actually causing the very problems that the hospitals needed to treat were confirmed.

On June 17, 2014, the nightmare ended and Bret’s freedom was returned as he received Termination of Guardianship.

Proving Doctors Wrong

Today, Bret Bohr’s life defies any accusation that he would be permanently incapacitated. The system that took his health and his freedom has been demonstrated to be wrong, as he is back to work in Alaska as a Bear Guard and Big Game Guide, living his life and loving his family.

According to the family’s Facebook page, Bret wants the public to know the facts of his story “so this kind of inhumane treatment is not ordered by law to others,” and “so this will not happen again!” They have pointed out that it was public advocacy and the tireless efforts of family, friends, compassionate lawyers, and supporters that made the difference in freeing Bret.

Bret Bohn advocates

There are many others whose voices have not yet been heard, yet they face the same injustice. Many still believe this kind of thing “couldn’t happen in America.”

But it can, and it does. Bret’s family hope that their story can help expose the injustice and can help others who are being medically kidnapped by the government agencies, the very ones who insist they are working for the “best interest of the child, or the patient.”

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Hope in God (I)

…it is such an important aspect of education to challenge the legitimacy of this widespread extension of state power. We have to begin to train the next generation to recognize that this expansion was never legitimate, and should never have been supported. There has to be a rethinking of the moral foundations of the culture with respect to the expansion of the welfare state. The next generation needs to be convinced that there are institutional alternatives to the welfare state, and these alternatives are legitimate. Not many people are involved in preaching this message of deliverance. This is why every little voice counts.[1]

Resisting the preposterous claims of the welfare state, when so much of the community is dependent on the welfare state, won’t grant you instantaneous popularity today. Those who have their snouts in the trough of government money will not love you and send you bouquets. And of those who don’t, many find the notion of a reduction, let alone an elimination in welfare to be a confusing or baffling suggestion.

But then, when the whole superstructure comes crashing down never to be re-built, it is critical there be individuals and organisations who had identified its inherent flaws, saw the cracks in the walls widening, and articulated/explained the need for massive change, and how to go about it.

The change must firstly be one of attitude. Welfarism has always promised much but provided little, unless you were a bureaucrat or politician. What has given welfarism away initially to Christians has been its consistent atheism, its hostility to marraige and the family, and the persistent gulf between its promises and its performance. Can any society deny God and survive, long-term?

We have had to trust that welfarism couldn’t survive whilst almost daily, the cracks and flaws in its superstructure seem to widen locally, nationally and internationally.

The Europeans where welfarism began under Bismarck in the 1880’s, are locked into a spiral of decline due to centralisation, massive government debt, high taxes, along with futile government attempts to manipulate the economy to health, that haven’t and cannot work.

Japan has experimented yet again with massive doses of Keynesian economic shock treatment, which have made the patient begin to lose his hair and colour, and feel more sickly than before. Now he’s saying, “Dr, I feel terrible!”

The US is mired in debts and stupid wars, and is so far into the tunnel there is clearly no light, especially at the other end. And no one at a national level has an appetite for change, or sees that the freight-train is nearing the precipice.

“Problems? What problems?”

I do not think the present ideology in favour of the welfare state can survive the demise of the finances of the welfare state.[2]

There will have to be individuals and institutions ready, when it finally goes pear-shaped. Preparation is firstly theological, spiritual and ideological, before it is anything else. Just like the Pauline epistles, we have to begin with the theological and ideological, then move onto the practical, and it all has to be fundamentally Christian in outlook.

The promise of the gospel is clear:

A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed until He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law (Isa. 42:3-4).

This is why we can be confident and have hope, because the promises of God apply today, just as they did when Matthew quoted from this passage in Matthew 12:18-21. Yes, ugliness will certainly come when the system we have known for so long in the West comes unglued.

But if we believers in Jesus Christ can understand that this has been the result of generations of rebellion against God, we may very well be able to lead the world out of the hole it has dug itself into, with Biblical solutions to the challenges of education, health and welfare, to name just a few.

This is what we have to be prepared to do, and it begins with an ideology of freedom and Biblical responsibility, something almost unheard of today, except by people of the Bible.

Are you ready for that?

 

 

[1] Gary North, “Cracked Walls and State Legitimacy,” (www.garynorth.com), 21/11/2014.

[2] Gary North, “The Setting for Serious Reform,” 17/5/2013.

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Arizona foster-care numbers rose over decade, as national numbers fell

Advocates hold photos of foster children during an April 2013 rally af the Arizona State Courts bulding in Phoenix. WASHINGTON – Arizona saw the number of kids in its foster care system rise significantly from 2002-2012, a time when most other states were posting sharp drops in their foster care rolls, according to new federal data.

The report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families said Arizona was one of 11 states with an increase in foster children and one of only two – along with Texas – with significant increases.

Arizona had the second-largest increase in the nation over the decade, adding 7,296 children to Texas’ 8,294. There were 15,751 foster kids in Arizona at the end of March, according to the latest numbers from the state.

Advocates said the numbers are more evidence of a state foster care system in crisis, one that has been “overworked and overwhelmed” as budgets have been cut.

“There was a perfect storm of things – the recession hit, the budget cuts had to be made and so more kids were coming in to care,” said Russ Funk, director of marketing and family recruitment at Aid to Adoption of Special Kids.

State officials said there is no one reason for the increase, but expressed confidence that recent improvements will have an effect.

After reports in late 2013 that more than 6,000 foster-care cases had not been investigated, Gov. Jan Brewer created a Child Advocate Response Examination (CARE) Team of lawmakers, advocates and state officials to oversee those cases and monitor Child Protective Services.

And the Legislature this spring voted to give oversight of the state’s foster care system to a new Department of Child Safety.

Jennifer Bowser, a spokeswoman for the new department, said she has seen improvements made “all over the place” to the state’s child care system since the agency’s creation.

Bowser said the state is revamping its training process for caseworkers, has reviewed legislation for additional staffing and is making significant progress on backlogged cases.

The 15,751 children in out-of-home care this March represented an increase of 714 children from the previous year, according to the state.

While the state is attempting to improve the child protective services system and provide more preventive services, families are still faced with challenges that put them in difficult situations – situations that can lead to their children being placed in foster care.

“There are a variety of different reasons that children become neglected or put at risk of being neglected when their parents are struggling,” Funk said.

Beth Rosenberg, director of child welfare and juvenile justice at Children’s Action Alliance, said the increases are occurring because of a system that has been “overworked and overwhelmed.”

“We were bringing more kids in to the system than the kids were leaving the system,” she said.

Funk said a prime factor for the surge of children in the Arizona foster care system was budget cuts during the recession that led to reductions in preventive services, such as parenting skill workshops and addiction rehab support.

And while the system was gaining kids, Funk said, there are “fewer caseworkers handling more cases with less services in place to help return those children” to their families.

Bowser agreed that socioeconomic challenges and substance-abuse issues could make it more likely that a child is removed from his or her home.

“If we can provide more prevention services – early intervention services – the hope is to not have the children need to be removed,” she said.