DES MOINES — A new report finds the number of Iowa teens in foster care has dropped significantly.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation report says the number of Iowa foster kids 14 and older fell 40% from 2006 to 2021. Samanthya Marlatt with the non-profit YSS which works with foster care youth, says the report is encouraging, but she’s also concerned about the significant increase in kids who are being removed from their families due to neglect.
Marlatt says, “I think as a state and as a community, we can really provide more supportive services to families so that we can ensure that those children are able to remain in their homes and they aren’t disrupted.” She says this is often linked to poverty and families not having access to the resources they need.
Marlatt says she’s glad to see the shift away from placing foster care teens in group care settings, and instead, putting them in family-based settings or with other familiar adults. “And that really ties back to the normalcy and really making sure that is the stepping stone to adulthood,” she says. “You want to have those normal connections and community-based settings.”
The report found about 1,600 — or 22% — of Iowa’s foster kids were 14 and older in 2021.