The death of Cornelius Fredericks, a 16-year-old Black foster youth, by staff of a Michigan group home in May 2020 sparked a moment of profound reflection about the use of institutional placements in foster care. For years, and increasingly following Cornelius’s death, leaders within and outside of child welfare have argued for a reduction or elimination of institutions, highlighting the high cost of institutions, how they are void of family-centered care, and that they are disproportionately harmful to Black and Brown youth.
With little being done to overhaul the system, Think of Us believed that what was missing from the conversation was a deeper understanding of the experiences and perspectives of young people who have recently lived in institutional placements.
Think of Us conducted the Away From Home study, centering the voices of youth with recent lived experiences in the larger conversation about how to approach reform or elimination of institutional placements in foster care. The Away From Home report shares the stories and qualitative data of these youth, resulting in a bold call to action: institutional placements need to be eliminated in the United States.
Because of the findings from Away From Home, Think of Us believes institutional placements in foster care need to be eliminated.
The Away From Home study found that institutional placements:
The pre-publication presentation of Away From Home to states resulted in states committing to reduce or eliminate institutional placements.