Although the number of licensed foster parents increased, the number of beds available for children who need out-of-home care in Los Angeles County decreased in 2015.
Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services recently released its biennial report, which shows that the number of children in out-of-home foster care actually decreased from 2014 to 2015, despite concerns that the number would rise in the wake of the death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez in 2013.
While the number of children in out-of-home care went down by just over 100 from 2014 to 2015, the number of beds available for these children also decreased by about the same amount, suggesting that finding homes for these children continues to be a challenge for social workers.
“We are working on establishing an upfront-family finding program to increase relative and non-related extended family member placements,” said Karen Richardson, deputy director with DCFS Juvenile Court Services and Adoptions Bureau, in an email. “We are also providing additional supports (i.e. tangible goods such as beds, diapers, etc., and respite care services) to help with our retention and recruitment efforts.”
The report also showed that there were 1,055 youth in group homes in 2015, a 4.4 percent increase over the year before.
California’s Continuum of Care Reform, which limits the amount of time a child or youth can be placed in a group home or congregate care facility, will take effect in January and will hasten the department’s efforts to find appropriate homes for older foster youth, who are often placed in residential institutions and small group homes.