Families Together

Government systems are separating children from their families and placing children in institutions and other group facilities in violation of their civil and human rights. Children’s Rights is a leader in a movement to raise public awareness of the harm done to young people and end this practice.

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Key Facts

THE ISSUE

Institutions and other group facilities are inherently dangerous places for children. Yet over 50,000 children in the US are living in congregate, juvenile detention, and other group settings instead of loving homes, while thousands more migrant children are detained by the federal government in brutal facilities. Many will experience physical violence, dismal living conditions, and inhumane, traumatizing treatment.

Group homes felt like punishment for being born in the wrong place at the wrong time to the wrong people. You can’t heal in group homes.”

-Anonymous, Families Over Facilities Report

Without safe foster placements, and without the vital support of caseworkers and other child welfare professionals, LGBTQ youth often flee abuse in the foster system only to face homelessness and sexual exploitation.

Normal child development requires a nurturing environment. Children who spend even brief periods in institutions have worse outcomes that correlate with success as adults than their peers. Young adults placed in institutions and group facilities who age out of the foster system are more likely to be involved in the criminal legal system, become parents at an early age, have their education interrupted, and suffer economic hardships. The human cost falls heavily on youth of color, especially Black children, who are disproportionately investigated by child protective services, unnecessarily removed from their families, and placed in institutions.

Despite studies that show placing children with caring family members, including grandparents or other kinship caregivers, gives them a better chance in life, and saves significant taxpayer dollars, less than half of the over 400,000 children in the foster system are reunited with their families.

The vast majority of children in the foster system are not there because of abuse. They are there because child welfare laws and practices conflate issues of poverty and neglect. Instead of being supported, families are unjustly separated, with children placed in strangers’ homes and institutions.

Ending institutionalization is thoroughly achievable with policies that prioritize community and family-based support. States like Connecticut have made tremendous strides through increasing community services that keep children in homes with adults who love and care for them.

Children’s Rights has sparked a national call to end the unnecessary institutionalization of children. Our seminal Families over Facilities report details the violations of children’s civil and human rights and the significant cost to taxpayers. We are fighting to end practices that result in unjust removals and the placement of children in institutional facilities and ensure that families receive the community support that can keep their children at home.  When separation is absolutely necessary, we advocate prioritizing the placement of children with family members, not strangers.

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