by Shelby Soule
Idaho shadowed a national trend of a decrease in the number of children being placed in foster care. According to the Kids Count Data Center, the number of foster children in Idaho dropped from 1,870 in 2007 to 1,466 in 2009. State officials told City Desk that this trend has continued in 2010. In explaining the decrease, officials point to a decline in drug use and its subsequent effects on families.
“The decrease in the usage of meth and other drugs has had the most impact on the number of kids coming into foster care,” said Tom Shanahan, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokesman.
Shanahan explained that the department is challenged in trying to place two or more foster children with family members.
Shanahan said that Idaho has “always focused on reuniting children with their families,” as doing so is not only a benefit to the state but to the children as well, who have a greater chance of success if a stable living situation is maintained. Currently, 82 percent of Idaho’s children in foster care are living with families and only 9 percent reside in group homes or institutions.
“The trends overall are very positive,” Shanahan said, but conceded that recent cases of abuse were more serious than those seen in the past.