Out of State, Out of Mind: Legal Impact of Out-of-State Placement on Foster Youth

University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Public Affairs, Fall 2023

50 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2023

See all articles by Lucy Johnston-Walsh

Lucy Johnston-Walsh

Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law

Date Written: September 10, 2023

Abstract

The child welfare system, which has also been referred to as the family regulation system, was ostensibly created to protect children who are victims of abuse and neglect. When children are at risk of harm, courts can authorize governmental agencies to remove children from their family and place children in the custody of kin or a variety of other placement settings, including congregate care. Data shows the alarming racial disproportionality in that 53% of black families will be investigated for child abuse, and furthermore black children are more likely to be removed from their families than white children. Recent changes to both federal and state laws articulate a clear preference for courts to prioritize keeping children with family members over a placement in a non-family setting, with the least preferred option being a placement in a congregate care. Yet too many children end up being further traumatized in congregate care settings far away from family. When no family placement options are available and a child has specialized needs, the child may be placed in congregate care far from home even across state lines. Unfortunately, too many youth are placed in these large congregate care settings and then further abused or traumatized. Children placed far from their home court jurisdiction not only have less visits with family members but also less contact with people who are charged with monitoring their wellbeing. This article will explore the legal issues that arise when foster youth are placed in residential settings out-of-state.

Keywords: Juvenile Law, foster care, congregate care

Suggested Citation

Johnston-Walsh, Lucy, Out of State, Out of Mind: Legal Impact of Out-of-State Placement on Foster Youth (September 10, 2023). University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Public Affairs, Fall 2023, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4567578

Lucy Johnston-Walsh (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson Law

150 S College St
Carlisle, PA 17013
United States

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