PPC annually compiles State of Child Welfare data in an effort to gauge the performance of Pennsylvania’s child welfare system in meeting the needs of the children and families the system serves. We gather comprehensive data for each of the 67 counties, including information on foster care placements, children leaving or re-entering foster care, and efforts to reunify children with parents or relatives.
The 2016 State of Child Welfare data shows:
Reports of child abuse
Overall reports of suspected child abuse to ChildLine (Department of Human Services) have increased 18.9 percent since 2010. While this increase can at first seem alarming, the passage of over two dozen child protection laws between 2013 through 2015 has increased public awareness and responsibilities of mandated reporters of child abuse.
The proportion of Pennsylvania foster children remaining in a congregate care setting has decreased from 20 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015. This downward trend is important for foster children because research shows that children living in family care settings have better educational outcomes and are more likely to exit foster care into a permanent family setting.
0-5 remaining in careĀ
Over one-third of the children remaining in foster family care on any given day in 2015 were under the age of six. Numerous studies have found that the foundation for strong brain development begins during the first five years of life. Ensuring that children ‘s health and safety is protected during this most rapid time of brain development is critical to positive child outcomes.
About 1 in 5 youth age 16-20 had a permanency goal of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) in 2015. APPLA is generally recognized as the least desirable permanency goal for foster youth and should only be considered if other options such as reunification, adoption or legal guardianship have been ruled out. During 2015, 76 percent of children leaving foster care with a goal of APPLA exited to non-permanent arrangements.
While teens make up the majority of the population re-entering foster care, the percent of teen re-entries has declined. In 2015, 58 percent of youth ages 13 and above re-entered foster care, representing an 11 percent decrease from 2011. The rate of re-entry for younger children in foster care is rising.
Data for each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties can be found below.
State-level Data Tables