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More than 100,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect in California in 2004. During the same period, nearly 39,000 children in California were removed from their homes and placed in foster care — an average of more than 100 children every day. Some spend just a few days in foster care, but many will remain for years or their entire childhoods.
Today, there are approximately 82,000 foster children in California — 20 percent of all foster children in the nation, and the largest foster care population of all 50 states.
In FY 2005-06, California will spend a staggering $4.7 billion on child welfare and foster care services, drawn from state, county, and federal funds. When parents cannot or will not care for their children, the government assumes the role of parent and is responsible for children’s safety and well-being. This
Report seeks to answer the question: How well is the state caring for its most vulnerable children? Is California a responsible parent?
The data in this Report portray a county-run system that protects many children but fails to protect many others. Indeed, reported data show that every county fails to meet at least two federal outcome standards.
Four counties that care for more than 12,000 children in care failed everyfederal measure. All too often, county agencies are failing to keep children safe. It appears that each child’s level of safety and well-being is an accident of geography, hinging on political boundaries rather than on his or her particular needs. Foster children in San Francisco are 50 percent more likely to be abused or neglected within a year of an earlier abuse than children in Los Angeles County, and nearly 200 percent more likely than children in Monterey County.