Why do I have to move?

There is a universal understanding that children need an environment that embraces safety, food and love. When children receive this at the critical times in their development they will thrive and grow. Research demonstrates when children lack a safe place, inconsistently receive food, and lack love, they stop thriving and become untrusting and forever searching. These children remain driven only by a survival mode. Many of these children find themselves experiencing multiple foster family placements, or for those who are struggling even more, living in quality residential care so they can receive the support they will need.

In October 2019, The Federal Family First Act will begin closing traditional residential programs across the country.

Residential cottageWe have policy makers who feel that residential care cannot meet the needs of children, yet we have a generation of children who depend upon it and would not survive very well with families who do not have the skills to deal with our most vulnerable children.

How many children are we talking about across the country? Approximately 56,000 children and youth reside in residential care. By the way, that’s a 37 percent decline over the past decade. These children average staying in care from 8 to 11 months. They may “age out” in residential care, in which many programs continue to serve them or they may be ready to move into a family.

I will leave you with this thought - we all like to have a menu to be able to select what we feel we want to enjoy or consume. We need to understand that residential care is often there for children and youth who have had multiple failed foster care placements. Residential settings have increasingly come to be used principally for older children with more serious difficulties who may not want to attach to a strange family. Please remember that children are placed in residential care not simply as a consequence of their failure to settle in with a family – the last resort option – but because of their complex needs and “the very specialist nature of the kind of therapeutic support that they need.”

David Passmore is the Vice President for Residential Services at Boys and Girls Homes of NC.

Learn more about Residential Services at B&GH.

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