Foster Care

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State officials say New Hampshire faces a critical shortage of foster families for a growing number of children.

About 1,000 kids will enter the public system this year, yet there are only 600 licensed foster homes, and many of those are not prepared to take in a child at this time.

Michelle Galligan with Child and Family Services in Manchester says the state is particularly struggling to find homes for sibling groups, sometimes with up to four children at a time. And the problem has gotten worse in recent years.

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More children these days are living with Grandma and Grandpa, due to factors including incarceration, drug abuse, underemployment, and single parenthood.  We’ll find out how these grandparents become primary caregivers of their grandchildren, and the challenges they face, including housing, health, financial and legal issues.


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Welcome to the Word of Mouth Saturday show where we take all our freshest content, pop it in the audio blender and pour out a refreshing glass of public radio awesome. On this week's show:

  • Hogwarts for orphans? Natasha Vargas-Cooper tells us about San Pasqual Academy, a new kind of group home that is trying to create a stable environment for teenage foster kids.
  • A Disney convention for die-hard fans. Move over Comic-con, Disney is trying to create the ultimate fan event. Jordan Zakarin covered this years D23 event in Anaheim for Buzzfeed.
  • Vietnam through the eyes of photographers. Curator Kurt Sundstrom stopped by the studio to tell us about the Currier Museum of Art's new exhibit, "Visual Dispatches from the Vietnam War."

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Statistically speaking, American foster children face a steep uphill battle. A 2010 study showed nearly 25 percent of foster care children end up homeless at some point after exiting the system, and teen girls in foster care were more likely to become pregnant than to get adopted. One fledgling foster care experiment has done away with the foster family system in favor of a mutually supportive group-home. The San Pasqual Academy is a $14 million dollar nonprofit based in San Diego that houses 180 foster kids. Natasha Vargas-Cooper is a freelance journalist who wrote about San Pasqual for Pacific Standard.


The Department of Veteran Affairs expects to spend $57 billion in 2013. A significant part of that budget pays for nursing home care for elderly vets. This month, Washington Monthly magazine is exploring American wealth. Editor John Gravois wrote about the V.A. program that follows the foster care model.

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Thousands of foster kids are released from the system at age 18 only to realize that they are thousands of dollars in fraudulent debt. It can take years for any target of identity theft to restore their credit, and even longer to recover a sense of security. Former foster kids without family support or the benefit of experience or access to resources can be especially challenged.