SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The lack of foster homes across the San Francisco Bay Area means the trauma of being removed from their families is compounded for kids who are also sent far away from everything they know.
As of January, only 2,467 out of 4,473 foster kids in the nine Bay Area counties are currently placed in their home (supervising) county. That's around 55%, which is significantly below the overall California percentage of 77.2%, according to the California Child Welfare Indicators Project, a collaboration project that collects data between the California Department of Social Services and the University of California at Berkeley.
Sidney, a former foster child who was adopted by her current family, had to move out of her old neighborhood and change schools when she was placed with her first foster family at 7 years old.
"So it felt like I wasn't going to see my father anymore when I went to my first foster family," said Sidney, who teared up while talking with us about her experience.
According to Ashley Hurd, executive director of Marin Foster Care Association, this is one of the biggest problems facing the foster system in the Bay Area today.
"In Marin County alone, we send 40% of our foster youth out of our county," Hurd said. "I'm a foster parent myself. And I can say that lots of my children who have been removed from their families have gone through an extreme amount of trauma. So you can only imagine what a kid goes through when they're removed for the first time, let alone removed from their home, their school, and moved into a different county, and possibly really far away from their home."
Some Bay Area counties fare worse than others, notably San Francisco and Alameda.
In San Francisco, only 37.9% of foster youth are able to remain in the county. That means only 221 out of 583 total foster youth from San Francisco are able to stay.
In Alameda, the number is also low at 47.7% of foster children from the county placed.
However, it's not all bad news.
The good news is the number of foster youth from San Francisco has dropped during the last 10 years. In January 2010 there were 1,385 total foster youth and that number today has more than halved.
Yet, the percentage of youth from San Francisco placed in the county stayed at a similar number - 41.4% in 2010. So that means the number of homes available has reduced drastically for the percentage to remain constant despite a big reduction of children needing foster homes there.
Thousands of children in California's foster care system are removed from their parents for temporary out-of-home care because these children have experienced unsafe conditions, abuse, neglect or have parents who are unable to care for them.
These children can range in age from newborns to teens.
Foster care is a temporary living situation for kids whose parents cannot take care of them and whose need for care has come to the attention of child welfare agency staff. While in foster care, children may live with relatives, foster families or in group facilities. Nearly half of kids who enter the foster care system will return to their parent or primary caretaker.
Finding resources for families or individuals in the foster care system can be difficult sometimes. Go here for a list of vetted local resources with programs that offer valuable support and helpful services.
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