GAO Report: HHS Could Do More to Support States’ Efforts to Keep Children in Family-Based Care.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the report, “HHS Could Do More to Support States’ Efforts to Keep Children in Family-Based Care”, which highlights eight states use of congregate care (Connecticut, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington). This report examines how selected states have reduced their use of congregate care, challenges with reducing congregate care placements, and efforts HHS has taken to help states reduce congregate care. GAO interviewed state child welfare officials and analyzed child welfare data from HHS, reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and documents. States’ efforts to ensure appropriate placements included more oversight of decisions to place children in congregate care and the length of stay; enhanced recruiting and training for specialized foster families to care for children with serious emotional, behavioral, or medical problems; and increased supports for families in crisis. Some challenges to the appropriate use of congregate care highlighted in the report included providing specialized training to foster families, addressing shortages in mental health and other community services, and working with congregate care providers to focus more on providing services in family settings. Stakeholders also identified HHS actions, such as additional data analysis and sharing of best practices that would help states facing challenges to transform their use of congregate care.

Go here for the report.

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