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Is the Foster Care Program in Utah Working?

Is the Foster Care Program in Utah Working?

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Paul Nelson, KSL NewsradioThe foster care program in the U.S. is having more trouble finding permanent homes for many kids. Is Utah having the same problem as the rest of the country?

Jayden is a product of Utah's foster care system. The 13-year-old has clear memories of life with her birth mother. Jayden says, "My mom was kind of nice and kind of mean."

Cogswell has adopted three children from the foster care system, including an 18-year-old girl. She says adopting a foster child at that age is rare. "She was looking at being aged out of the system and we just caught her in time," says Cogswell.

She says many kids that age just don't care about being adopted anymore. Plus, state officials say many parents without kids are only interested in adopting babies. "They've given up on being able to find a permanent home," says Cogswell.

These kids are part of a growing nationwide trend. A government report says the number of foster kids "aging out" of the system increased 41 percent between 1998 and 2005, reaching record numbers

Department of Human Services Spokeswoman Carol Sisco says things aren't quite the same in Utah. She says, "We have an increased number of foster kids leaving foster care as adults, but not in record numbers."

Carol Sisco says 10 percent of foster kids leave the program as adults, 18 percent get adopted, and nearly 60 percent go home or to other relatives. She says the future is not necessarily bright for kids who age out. "They have high unemployment rates. They're more likely to have substance and drug abuse issues [and] mental health issues. They're more likely to commit suicide."

She says foster cases in general are going up. Sisco says, "We're averaging about 2600 kids at any given time in foster care. It used to be about 2300. A few years ago it was 2000."

Sisco says half of foster care cases are due to drug problems in the home.

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