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Foster Care Group Homes Examined by Senate Committee

On May 19, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing, “No Place to Grow-Up: How to Safely Reduce Reliance on Foster Care Group Homes.” The hearing focused on improving the outcomes of children and youth in foster care.

Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) started his opening remarks by stating, “As my colleagues know, last year, Congress passed, and the president signed, important legislation that improved the adoption incentives program, updated child support enforcement, and made a number of significant reforms to our nation’s child welfare system. A number of these reforms addressed issues associated with the sexual trafficking of children and youth out of foster care.” Sen. Hatch continued, “Groups home, sometimes referred to as ‘congregate care,’ are literally breeding grounds for the sexual exploitation of children and youth. As the committee heard during a hearing on domestic sex trafficking of children and youth in foster care, traffickers know where these group homes are and target the children placed in them for exploitation.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) stated, “I’d like to make three observations on this topic: [1] There is no question that high quality, residential care plays a crucial role in the foster care continuum. But at the same time, it’s clear that not everybody’s on the same page when we talk about congregate care. The terms ‘congregate care,’ ‘group homes’ and ‘residential treatment’ are often used interchangeably; but the structure and quality of these settings varies widely as our witnesses will show. [2] It’s important that the discussion over safely reducing congregate care commensurately focuses on building the capacity for foster parents, kin, adoptive parents and entire communities to care for children in family settings. And [3], the best way to reduce reliance on congregate care is to prevent children from entering foster care at all.”

The following witnesses also testified during the hearing:

  • Joo Yeun Chang, associate commissioner, Children’s Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Jeremy Christopher Kohomban, president and chief executive officer, The Children’s Village;
  • Lexie Grüber, former foster youth; and
  • Matthew Reynell, adoptive father
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