Although these statistics pertain to Foster Children, Foster Care is rarely the reason behind them. Childhood trauma, which these children bring with them into care, has detrimental, long-term affects, if the appropriate services are not provided to children who have experienced it.

%

42% of Foster Children will not graduate from High School

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97% of Foster Children will not graduate from College

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75% of students in Foster Care are performing below grade level

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Teen girls in Foster Care are 2.5 times more likely to become pregnant by the age of 19

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65% of children in long-term Foster Care will develop a mental illness

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In some parts of the Country, over 80% of inmates were former Foster Children

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50% of children with a CASA/GAL Volunteer will not re-enter Foster Care, but live in a safe and permanent home

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CASA/GAL Volunteers decrease the risk of Foster Children entering Juvenile Detention by 45%

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Children served by a CASA/GAL Volunteer are 8 times more likely to graduate High School

“CASA/GAL Volunteers drastically improve the outcomes of children in Foster Care, more than any other individual working in Child Protection.”

“Because of her dedication, I was given a second chance. She helped keep me out of Juvie and helped me realize that my future was up to me – not my past.”

“Without the CASA/GAL Program, most of these children would be lost in an over-burdened system. These volunteers can literally save these kids.”

“The one constant I see in children’s lives is the CASA/GAL Volunteer. I thank them for all the things they have taught me about being a better judge and about being a better human being.” ~Judge Robert Brutinel

Gaps in representation have occurred and the state does not have a way to validate all children and youth are being served.

44 counties and 7 guardian ad litem programs provide representation. In fiscal year 2017, 81 percent of children and youth were served by guardian ad litem programs. Of the 19 percent not served, most received representation through a public defender and some had gaps in representation. Three circumstances contributed to the gaps: Neither a public defender nor a guardian ad litem was appointed. A guardian ad litem program was appointed but did not have the capacity to serve, and a public defender was not subsequently appointed. A guardian ad litem program served for a period of time but withdrew from the case, and a public defender was not subsequently appointed.

Idaho Child Protective Act

Children 11 years and younger shall be appointed a guardian ad litem.

Youth 12 and older shall be appointed a public defender.

Children and youth may have both a guardian ad litem and a public defender.

3,323

children Number of children and youth involved in child protection cases, FY 2017

  • 71% Children, 29% Youth 71% 71%

Consistency and stability are the state’s biggest challenges in providing effective representation to children and youth.

The state has a shortage of volunteer advocates. This shortage increases the following likelihoods: A gap in representation will occur. Children and youth will experience turnover in representation. Program staff will serve more cases leaving less time for support, supervision, fundraising, and community awareness. Even though guardians ad litem represent best interest and public defenders represent expressed wishes, collaboration between these groups is essential to improve the quality of representation. State coordination is needed to ensure consistency and stability across multiple programs, counties, and the Supreme Court.

Because of the shortage of volunteer advocates, some programs use a high percentage of program staff to serve children and youth.

R

Recommendations

The Legislature should facilitate a coordinated, collaborative effort to bring together relevant stakeholders to help strengthen representation for children and youth in child protection cases.

February 2018 Report. View the report: www.legislature.idaho.gov/ope/