The good old days (or “Florida foster care rates since 2003”)

I’ve been running a lot of numbers this week for an article that I’m working on. I’ll post a few of the more interesting charts over the next few days. Beginning with these I created from DCF’s Child Welfare Services Trend Reports. The trend report contains the number of children in out-of-home and in-home care at the end of each month from 2003-2015. Taking the monthly average for each year and splitting it up by DCF Region shows a few interesting facts:


  1. The number of children under DCF supervision has been rising since 2013, but it used to be a lot higher statewide. It was lowest in 2010 at the end of Secretary Sheldon’s tenure.


under supervision

  1. Breaking down the numbers by region shows that the DCF regions have never been equal in size. The Southern Region (Miami) has been the relative smallest until recently. This explains historically why the Southern Region has one CBC and the Central Region has five. The size difference among the regions was at its peak in 2005, when the Central Region averaged 12,193 kids per month and the Southern Region averaged only 3,944.


monthly oohc

  1. Separating out the children in out-of-home care, the number is indeed rising, and has been in the south since 2013, and in the north since 2014. The Suncoast Region consistently has the most kids in out-of-home care. The Southern and Northwest regions have vied for title of lowest number of kids out of home.
  2. The Southeast Region has the largest increase in out-of-home care use of any region beginning in 2013.


monthly in-home

  1. Looking at the number of children who are receiving services in their home, however, is a different story. The Central Region in the early 2000s relied heavily on in-home services, but came into line with the other regions by 2009.  Whereas most regions’ in-home numbers are steady or decreasing, the Southern Region’s have gradually gone up.


ratio of out to in

  1. By dividing number of out-of-home children by the number of in-home children (not the clearest way of doing this — sorry), we can see the mix of kids in each region. Our first graph showed that the number of kids under DCF supervision was rising, but this shows that those kids are being taken out of their homes at increasing rates.
  2. The difference between now and the early 2000s is stark, when the regions were far more varied in their use of out-of-home care. The Southern Region’s total numbers were small, but their mix was mostly out-of-home, by almost 3:1. To the contrary, there have been times when the Northwest Region had more children receiving in-home services than were in foster care.
  3. The statewide tilt upwards we see in early 2014 signifies a policy shift towards favoring out-of-home care. At least in this recorded history, we have never seen such a uniformly implemented change. (I’m not counting 2010 when Secretary Sheldon left and all of the regions’ numbers immediately started climbing again.)
  4. As of September 2015, the last month with data in these charts, 64% of kids under DCF supervision statewide were in out-of-home care.  That number was the smallest at 59% in December 2011.

That’s it for now. If there are charts or numbers you’d like to see, just let me know in the comments.


3 responses to “The good old days (or “Florida foster care rates since 2003”)”

  1. Any trends being seen since the new methodology has rolled out over the last year+?

  2. If you draw a line at the time they started the new risk and safety assessment I think it will correlate with the increase and have a home care. I think the safety methodology reflects the current policy to be less risk adverse.

  3. Since the methodology didn’t roll out everywhere at once, I would be interested in setting the month-by-month data on top of the roll-out schedule and seeing if it had any appreciable effect. I just need the schedule.

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