Why are we focused on Springfield? Frankly, the numbers are staggering.
By the end of the first quarter in fiscal year 2013, there were over 33,000 child caseloads in the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (DCF). Just over 2,000 of these children were located in Springfield (see Fig. A).1 While the state-level numbers have fluctuated in the last decade, the same cannot be said for the number of caseloads in Springfield. As the number of caseloads statewide has trended downward since about Q4 FY09, the caseloads in Springfield have remained virtually unchanged. Clearly, Springfield has not experienced the same reduction of caseloads over time that has been witnessed across the state of Massachusetts.
When we consider the fraction of these children who are placed into foster care placements or other long-term arrangements, Springfield fares no better. The statewide fraction of DCF caseloads placed into foster care or long-term arrangements by the end of Q1 FY13 was 22%. The fraction of DCF caseloads in Springfield placed into such arrangements was 19% (Fig. B). Prior to 2009, Springfield experienced a higher proportion of DCF child caseloads in foster care placements compared to the state average, but after 2009 that trend reversed. Even with a recent uptick in the state-wide average, the fraction for Springfield has remained constant.
Despite the reduction in the number of DCF caseloads statewide, and the increased fraction of those caseloads placed into foster care, Springfield has not experienced such promising outcomes in recent years.
Given this reality for our children in foster care placements in Springfield, our aim is to help enrich their lives and to assist their foster caretakers in providing them with opportunities and experiences to live out happy, fulfilling childhoods.
- Data obtained from http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/researcher/family-services/dcf/dcf-quarterly-reports.html. ↩