Although some recent statistics indicate overall progress in San Francisco’s foster care system, much work remains to be done, and statistics remain daunting.
— Children in San Francisco are 80 percent more likely to end up in the system, as opposed to children living in other regions of California.
— Black children are 2,000 percent more likely to be in foster care than white children.
— SF social workers remain 50 percent more likely to separate a black child from their family and place them in foster care than social workers elsewhere in California.
— Social workers are about 20 percent less likely to place a white child in foster care than social workers in other parts of the state.
In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, an influx of black children into the system was said to be triggered by the city’s policy that children with drugs in their system should be automatically placed into foster care, without further investigation into alternate care by relatives. With this policy no longer in effect, and this generation growing out of the system, a change in statistics seems conceivable.
According to Human Services Agency Director Trent Rhorer, there has already been a 70 to 64 percent drop in black children in the system, and overall, a lower percentage of black children entering the system today, compared to a decade ago. A drop in the total number of children in the system by almost half, in the last decade, is also worth noting.
Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, the creator of a task force on foster care, believes more progress should be visible by now, referring to stats on how a staggering 70 percent of San Quentin State Prison’s inmates were once in foster care. Exemplified by numbers like these, children already coming from economically and socially marginalized populations, entering into the foster care system, don’t have the odds working in their favor.
The city’s foster care system continues to press forward. California’s overall state statistics show that 20 percent of foster children are sent to other counties for care, while the SF foster system, places 55 percent out of SF county.
Rhorer indicates that these numbers are a good thing – the city is placing children with relatives in other parts of California, versus random foster homes within the city. All these numbers continue to reflect a modern child welfare system that has no immediate solutions or quick-fixes, but fluctuating numbers and hopeful city officials.