BANGOR- While welfare has been a hot topic in Maine lately, one thing our state is excelling in is the child welfare system.
According to the Annie E. Casey foundation, there are 57,000 children in the nation’s welfare system that are living without the stability or support of a family. But Maine is now a leader in ensuring that statistic is lowered.
“Maine does a very good job in terms of finding children homes versus an institutionalized setting. And that’s because we do have kinship care as a top priority for out of home placements as a policy,” said Claire Berkowitz of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Maine is one of the top four states, with 94 percent of foster children being matched with a family, as opposed to an 84 percent average nationwide. A factor that helps Maine’s numbers is it’s Kinship Care Policy, which matches foster children with members of their family rather than placing them in a group home. In fact, 35 percent of foster kids in the state are currently with a family member.
Studies show that children living in a supportive family setting, whether it be with a relative or with a foster parent, are better off emotionally, psychologically, and developmentally. It’s also the most cost-effective solution. But even though Maine is ahead when it comes to child welfare, there is still a shortage of people willing to foster.
“We want to be able to uniquely evaluate the needs of a child or of siblings, and be able to place them with families that are either in their community so we’re not disrupting where they’re going to school and so we can align their needs with a family. So the more families that can agree to come in and be licensed, it provides us, obviously, with many more resources to ensure that that alignment occurs and the stability for those children is met,” said Mary Mayhew, the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Anyone willing to help foster a child can find out more HERE.