Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

October 2022Vol. 23, No. 8Homeless in Foster Care: What Would Really Keep Foster Youth From Sleeping in Offices

A webinar from Fostering Media Connections, "Homeless In Foster Care: What Would Really Keep Foster Youth From Sleeping in Offices," features a conversation about recent reports suggesting a pattern of children and youth sleeping in child protective services office buildings, hotels, and caseworker cars. The panelists discuss how youth enter these situations in the first place, what barriers to placement exist, and how this complex issue could be solved. To do so, they considered the following questions:

  • When in the life of a case could we intervene to avoid not having a placement for the child or youth?
  • What are the supports families need to care for complex children?
  • What are the systemic changes needed to solve this complex problem?

Children and youth not having a safe place to stay after an emergency or removal is a complicated issue that will take a nuanced, comprehensive solution. The panelists suggest that we should reframe this problem from being about difficult children and youth, which can lead to assuming they need "fixing," or a scarcity of foster families to being about the fact that there are too many children and youth in foster care.

Leveraging the resources in communities to help families find support and strength before a crisis occurs can help mitigate the problem of not having a placement for children and youth after emergencies or removals. The webinar also presents ideas about using the following as starting points for solutions:

  • Reforming mandated reporting
  • Viewing parents as partners who want to do the work
  • Examining the intersection between child welfare and juvenile justice
  • Creating a flexible system that provides holistic support to families

It also talks about how agency and community leaders should be aware that offering support is not doing more harm to a disadvantaged community (e.g., more policing in areas with a majority of diverse families) as well as be aware of the impact of historical trauma and economic inequities as a result of structural racism and decades of social and economic policies.

Watch the 1-hour webinar in its entirety for a deeper look into these questions and possible solutions.