Welcome to the newly updated Every Kid Needs a Family Website! The purpose of this site is to provide information and advocacy tools to assist judges, attorneys, and advocates in making decisions regarding the placement of children that reflect the least  restrictive, most family-like setting possible for each child under court jurisdiction.

Within this site, you will find resources and links to research and best practices on child welfare placements, a summary of relevant federal law, advocacy and decision-making tools for judicial officers and attorneys, and data on institutional placements for each state.

The first generation of Every Kid Needs a Family followed the 2015 release of an Annie E. Casey Foundation report by the same name. The report cited the research showing that children fare much better in family-based care and challenged policymakers, courts, social service agencies, and communities to do a better job in assessing and treating children who are living in non-family institutional placements.

Research and policy developments since the Every Kid Needs a Family report have confirmed and solidified its findings. In 2018, Congress passed the landmark Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). The FFPSA severely limits the types of institutional placements that can be supported with federal funds and gives courts new approval and oversight responsibilities. The FFPSA becomes fully effective for all states as of October 1, 2021, although states may opt-in to its provisions earlier. Information on this site is relevant for practitioners in both FFPSA and non-FFPSA states.

Please note: This site and materials use the term "institutional care" to encompass all non-family placements for children in the child welfare system, including group homes, institutions, emergency shelters, residential treatment facilities, or other congregate care facilities


The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic provides another incentive to discourage institutional care placements. The harms of institutional care for youth are magnified during this pandemic, and placement in group homes place youth at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure, as well as emotional harms related to isolation from their families and communities. The American Bar Association Section on Litigation posted recommendations on Advocating for Kinship Placement During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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Explore the data

View an interactive map with the most recent data on institutional care placements and the eight-year trend for each state.

NCSC.org NACC Annie E. Casey Foundation

Production of this site is a partnership of the National Center for State Courts and the National Association of Counsel for Children with the generous support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The contents were also informed and strengthened through collaboration and feedback from the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association, National Association of American Indian Court Judges Association, Association of Children’s Residential Centers, and the Building Bridges Initiative.