Pregame Analysis: What’s At Stake for Foster Kids When PA Fumbles
Here’s one score you don’t want to cheer.
We are a week away from the grandest tailgating event in the state, the Penn State versus Pitt game in Happy Valley. For most fans, the Sandusky scandal may be an old story, but far too many children are still subject to the injuries of child abuse every day.
A report released yesterday throws a number of penalty flags onto the field, signaling that the Commonwealth is failing to protect each of its 16,000 foster children.
The most shocking statistic: half of Pennsylvania’s children who are abused or neglected were sexually victimized. This is six times higher than the national average (8%), according to Child Trends, a respected national research organization. The state’s dismal standing might be a sign that the new ground rules enacted by the PA legislature in the wake of the Sandusky scandal are working. Even so, a staggering 3,078 children were sexually abused in PA last year.
Here’s another offensive stat: more African American children are in foster care in PA than in most other states, according to Child Trends. While these children make up 44% of youth in foster care, they are only 13% of the general population of Pennsylvania’s youth. That’s three times more Black children in foster care in Pennsylvania than the number of African Americans enrolled at Penn State’s main campus.
Nearly every state is carrying the ball for rising levels of drug abuse. The most frequent reason in Pennsylvania for removing children from their family homes is drug addiction. It’s the reason that half of Pennsylvania children are placed in foster care, making Pennsylvania a top contender for most kids removed due to addiction. PA can boost its stats by more aggressively making quality substance abuse services available for parents.
The good news is that we are also gaining ground on the field.
Fewer children in Pennsylvania die due to abuse and neglect than in most other states. In fact, one of the most promising stats from the Child Trends data is that Pennsylvania ranked eleventh in the nation for fewest child fatalities in foster care.
Abused or neglected children are also getting adopted faster in Pennsylvania than in most states. It still takes too long, but with 92% of adoptions finalized in under five years, we are definitely improving our game.
Beaver stadium’s last multimillion dollar renovation added 10,000 new seats in its behemoth upper deck – which is still not big enough to fit all of our foster kids. There’s a lot at stake when Pennsylvania fumbles.
Stay tuned for PCCY’s new child welfare initiatives. We’re upping the game.
Want a state budget that doesn’t cut funds to schools or services for low income children and families? Reach out to your State Representative before school starts next week.