A program in Colorado to place children with foster families could soon be a model for other states to follow.
The Family First Prevention Services Act of 2018 will restrict the number of children going into residential care starting this year.
The team at the Tennyson Center for Children came up with a program that allows kids without a family to stay there temporarily. The goal at Tennyson is for advocates to spend 30 days finding the right foster family for that child.
“What we did was just create breathing space so that everyone can make a better choice so they’re not frantic, like I don’t know what to do with this kid, let’s put him in residential. They’re now saying, OK I can put him in this program that pauses their move into residential and I can go find a better option,” said Ned Breslin, CEO of the Tennyson Center for Children.
Breslin says it costs $11,000 a month to care for a child in a residential program, but it costs just several thousand to care for a child in a foster family.
The money saved by the state could help families pay for tutoring support, or to help with transportation costs or childcare.
“Do we want to reallocate that money upstream to stop kids from even becoming residential possibilities or do we want to invest more money in these families where the kids go, so they have a better shot of success? Those are great decisions,” said Breslin.
Breslin says they are always looking for foster families. The difficult part about finding the right family for kids is that many foster families are hesitant to take an older child and prefer to foster an infant.
Breslin started this program in October. He says about 10 kids have gone into it and each of them have been placed with foster families.