SB 1458: Because Children Thrive in Families, Not Institutions

Arizona places young foster children in group homes and institutions at a higher rate than any other state in the nation. We must change that - and we can with SB1458.

Congregate care placements have detrimental effects on the healthy development of children, especially young children. Experts agree that children do best with families and that congregate care (group homes, shelters, and other institutional settings) should only be used when there is no less restrictive setting that can meet a child’s short-term need for therapeutic services.

Senate Bill 1458, sponsored by Senator Bennett, is a collaboration between Fostering Advocates Arizona, a group of young people with lived experience in foster care, and Children’s Action Alliance.

The bill, which passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support, will now be considered by the House of Representatives. The legislation aims to reduce the placement of young foster children in congregate care settings by requiring the Department of Child Safety Director's Approval before such a placement can be made for a young child.

At close to 11%, Arizona’s rate of congregate care placement of children under age 12 is the highest in the nation and much higher than the national average of 3%. ¹ Arizona children deserve better.

Requiring Director Approval is a nationally recognized best practice included in Ending the Need for Group Placements, a collective effort of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Casey Family Programs, and community partners nationwide that identified actions to reduce the use of congregate care.

Our first priority at CAA is to support families so they can safely thrive together. When that isn’t possible, and a child must enter the child welfare system, it is imperative that each and every placement of a child attempts to reduce trauma and strengthen safety. SB1458 is an important step in doing better for Arizona kids.

Watch this short video to hear how the City of Philadelphia’s Congregate Care Approval process helped reduce its congregate care population from nearly 1,000 to just 255.

Learn more about the campaign to End the Need for Group Care and check out the full video.



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