California’s group homes for kids: harrowing concerns

So-called “group homes” that serve to house thousands of neglected and abused California children who cannot be readily situated with relatives or foster families have always been envisioned by state officials as temporary venues.

In other words, the goal has been to place children in such places only for very limited periods, and only when no other preferred option immediately exists for sheltering them.

The reality with group homes, though, has turned out to be far different from expectations, owing to a shortage of relatives and foster families who can step up to provide care. As a result, notes a recent article spotlighting group homes for youth and serious problems associated with them, they have become “long term placements for many children.”

And, as an investigation chronicled in the above-cited article notes, that longer duration has resulted in dire consequences for many hundreds of young and vulnerable people.

Documented reports of food shortage have surfaced. Violence in such environments is often endemic, and coupled with evidence of inadequate medical care and inappropriate punishments. Sadly, too, though unsurprisingly, sexual abuse incidents have made their way into state-compiled inspection reports.

Indeed, adverse stories surrounding group homes are so common and harrowing that they have resulted in a California Assembly Bill aimed at entirely eliminating such homes by 2021.

That won’t be easy to accomplish, of course, given the several thousand individuals who are currently housed in such establishments. The reform effort is geared primarily toward a more focused and effective recruitment of foster families and biological family members who serve as caregivers.

Every caring and empathetic person across the state will obviously be hoping that reform measures bear real fruit and help to alleviate this fundamentally concerning problem.