January 14, 2020 portion of article appeared in The Journal Times
Placed out of county update
In 2017, about 100 children were placed in foster homes outside of Racine County, which cost more and created additional problems for families.
“The problem with placing them out of the county is we’re not just removing children from their family home, we’re removing children from their school, from their siblings, most likely, all of those kinds of things,” Milkie said. “And we’re adding layers of problems on to that child that we’re going to have to resolve at some point.”
Through the county’s Bring Them Home campaign, more foster parents were recruited and the number of children placed in foster care outside the county went from 100 to about 40 today, Milkie said.
With fewer children being placed in foster care outside the county, that means funds that would have been spent to place them are being used to financially sustain the programs the county has in place.
“I feel like the County Board and the county executive have been very generous with us in terms of helping us shift our focus,” Otto said. “Now we’re seeing some alleviation of the out-of-home costs that we can continue to refocus on prevention. So we haven’t let up on any of our prevention efforts and overtime we see that the trends should continue this way.”
Delagrave said residents should be pleased with the changes that have been made.
“Racine County is fortunate to have many staff, community members and partners who work every single day to change the lives of children and give hope to families in crisis,” Delagrave said. “Their tireless efforts have not only helped children and families in need, but they have made Racine County a better place.”
Foster care placements are needed for children who cannot be safely cared for in their own homes. Racine County foster homes enable children to remain in their community and provide a loving and safe environment for foster children. Foster care is a temporary home for children until they can safely return to their own homes.
Children in foster care come from different backgrounds and have different needs. They range in age from newborns to teenagers. They are of all races and nationalities. The one thing they have in common is the need for a safe and supportive environment in which they can grow, emotionally and physically.
There is a shortage of foster homes in Racine County in which to place the growing number of children and youth who are entering the foster care system. This causes children to be placed outside of Racine County, and in many cases, sibling groups cannot be placed together, affecting the children’s emotional and mental well-being, while creating barriers to achieving permanency.
Racine County currently has 315 children in out of home care. About 30% or 92 of these children are currently placed outside of Racine County, adding additional trauma to already traumatized children who are now being further removed from family, friends, schools, teachers and other important people in their lives.
Over 1/3 of siblings placed into foster care are forced apart, placed in different foster homes; a situation that can be devastating for these vulnerable children. Not only have they been forced away from their family home, but they’ve also lost the closest people they had to turn to.