One hears occasional anecdotal reports. There was a sentence in the Report of Governor Edwards’ 2016 Transition Committee on Children and Family Services, which states, “In fact, our committee heard reported instances of children being forced to sleep in local offices due to a lack of placement resources.” (See A.5 on page 13)
It may happen anecdotally, but no current news reports indicate hoteling is a problem in Louisiana. But we must understand that Louisiana is always on the edge.
We know Louisiana has too few foster homes for the number of children in custody. So at the end of the day, if DCFS is without a foster bed, sleeping in a hotel or on an office floor may become the only option.
Why Louisiana Must Recruit More than Enough Foster Families
“Hoteling” (also called “Temporary Lodging” and sometimes spelled “Hotelling”) is a Child welfare practice in which Children in custody spend nights in hotels, cars, or state office buildings (aka “Officing”) due to a shortage of foster homes, group homes, or treatment facilities. Unfortunately, the hoteling of children is increasing in many states that grapple with too few placement options for children in foster care.
A state can prevent hoteling children or requiring kids to sleep in offices if it has sufficient kinship and foster homes for the number of children in custody. The solution to hoteling is effective foster home recruiting to ensure a surplus of homes.
States are losing in the courts, legislatures are passing bills, and advocacy groups are drawing attention to a growing practice.
On Being a Child Without a Place
To understand hoteling from a child’s point of view, imagine this: you have been “taken” by strangers. Even though your removal was for your safety, what happened to you was horrific.
Your parents may have yelled at the strangers in your home. You cried. Your mom screamed. Law enforcement officials may have stepped between you and your parents and participated physically in your removal.
You were taken to a state office building where you learn that no one prepared a place for you to stay. And, “No. You cannot go home.”
So without a foster home, shelter care, or group home bed available, you are checked into a hotel for the evening or spend the night in a state office building, sleeping on a couch or a blow-up mattress, watched through the night by a stranger.
The Unconscionable Irony
About half of the states in the U.S. include a parent’s inability to provide shelter as part of their definition of abuse and neglect. So, the sad irony of hoteling children in foster care is this: if parents cannot provide housing for their children and the family sleeps in a car, a state’s child welfare agency may take custody of the children for reasons of neglect, and ironically, immediately place the children in a hotel or keep them in an office because the state’s child welfare agency “cannot provide housing.”
News Reports about Hoteling and “Officing” Children in Foster Care
The news articles below provide examples of hoteling as it is practiced by public Child welfare agencies across the country.
WA: This attack took place in a hotel room: Foster teen’s violent attack of Washington social worker highlights lack of safety solutions – king5.com – Taylor Mirfendereski and Chris Ingalls – March 1, 2023
KS: Lawmaker: Kansas should cut ties with foster care contractor – KSHB.com – Heather Hollingsworth – November 16, 2022
SC: Federal Court Approves Plan to Immediately Address Crisis of Children Sleeping in South Carolina DSS Offices | Children’s Rights
TN: Here are five ways you can help foster kids sleeping at DCS offices – Mainstreet-Nashville – Vivian Jones – December 28, 2022
TN: DCS: Kids sent to hospitals for up to 100 days because there is no place to put them: DCS Commissioner Margie Quin outlined a cascade of crises in seeking a funding boost from Gov. Lee – Tennessee Lookout – Anita Wadhwani – November 18, 2022
TN: Foster children in Knoxville outnumber available foster families – WATE.com – Kristin Gallant – Oct 7, 2022
TN: Lawmakers say DCS staffing shortages force children to sleep in offices – Mainstreet-Nashville – Vivian Jones – October 26, 2022
IL: DCFS must end practice of housing wards of the state in juvenile jail: A WBEZ report found that the practice, once on the decline, is now ticking up again. – Chicago Sun-Times – CST Editorial Board – June 11, 2022
WA: Washington agrees to end foster youth placements in hotels, offices and cars – InvestigateWest – Elizabeth Amon – June 28, 2021
IL: When Illinois DCFS can’t find housing for incarcerated teens, they stay in jail: The average wait time is more than 53 days. – WBEZ.org – Char Daston – June 8, 2022
KS: Kansas foster children are still sleeping in offices years after promises that would end | KCUR 89.3 – NPR in Kansas City – June 2, 2022
GA: Lawmakers push to stop housing foster kids in hotels | Solutions from advocates – 11alive.com – Liza Lucas – February 16, 2023
GA: Foster Care Crisis: Hundreds of foster kids in South Georgia placed in hotels – WALB.com – Heidi Paxson – June 8, 2022
WA: DCYF settles class action lawsuit from foster youth in hotel stays – Foster Parent Alliance of Washington State – Jac Fitgerald – June 7, 2022
ND: Lack of emergency foster care means some North Dakota kids must stay in hotels, offices – The Dickinson Press, by April Baumgarten – June 04, 2022
GA: ‘Desperate Situation’: States Are Housing High-Needs Foster Kids in Offices and Hotels – Cobb County Courier – Sam Whitehead – June 1, 2022
US: High-needs foster kids sometimes have to sleep in hotels or offices. The pandemic made the problem worse< – PBS News Hour – May 31, 2022
VA: Foster kids sleeping in offices, hotel rooms because there’s no other option | Why, and what can be done? – WSLS.com – Jenna Zibton, Anchor – May 12, 2022
VA: With nowhere else to go, some Virginia foster children have been sleeping in government offices – Virginia Mercury – Kate Masters – April 1, 2022
AK: Alaska sees drop in foster care homes for children as demand persists – Alaska’s New Source – Georgina Fernandez – March 7, 2022
TX: Report: Texas foster children spend average of 18 nights sleeping in CPS offices, hotels – KXAN.com – Avery Travis – November 19, 2021
WA: Why Washington is struggling to stop housing foster kids in hotels – King5.com – Taylor Mirfendereski – October 17, 2021
TX: Why Kids in Foster Care End up Sleeping in Offices – Dallas Morning News – Naomi Schaefer Riley – October 5, 2021
TX: Judge sanctions Texas agency over children sleeping in CPS offices – KXAN.com – Avery Travis – September 10, 2021
WA: WA foster system to stop housing kids in hotels, offices. But then what? – Crosscut – Elizabeth Amon – July 9, 2021
WA: Judge Orders Washington State to End Car and Hotel Stays for Foster Youth – Disability Rights Washington – Patty Guinto – June 29, 2021
WA: No bed, no blanket: Social workers blow whistle on Washington forcing foster youth to sleep in cars, offices as punishment – King5.com – Taylor Mirfendereski, Chris Ingalls – May 20, 2021
TX: ‘A catastrophe’: More than 200 kids sleeping in CPS offices as need for foster care intensifies – KXAN.com – Avery Travis – May 4, 2021
OR: Update: DHS Makes Progress on Ending Placement of Foster Youth in Hotels – Youth, Rights & Justice – February 25, 2021
IL: DCFS releases information about children forced to sleep in offices overnight – WGN-TV Lourdes Duarte – August 1, 2019
IL: Amidst shelter bed shortage, pics show kids sleeping on DCFS office floor – WGN-TV – Ben Bradley – July 15, 2019
National: Foster kids kept by state in hotels at record rate – InvestigateWest – Allegra Abramo – September 21, 2018
FL: Foster children still sleep in offices, but Eckerd Connects says foster-care fix is working – Tampa Bay Times – August 22, 2018
OR: Gov. Brown Ignored Problems with Foster Children Housing – Oregon Accountability Project – June, 2018
OR: Foster Care in Oregon: Chronic management failures and high caseloads jeopardize the safety of some of the state’s most vulnerable children – Oregon Secretary of State, Audits Division – May 2018
WA: The $600-a-night foster care bed – Investigate West – Allegra Abramo – October 11, 2017
US: Nowhere Else to Go: Why Kids Are Sleeping in Child Welfare Offices – Governing.com – J.B. Wogan – October 09, 2017
LA: Former foster kids tell La. lawmakers to keep eye out for vulnerable services – The Advocate – Elizabeth Crisp – May 26, 2017
TX: For troubled foster kids in Houston, sleeping in offices is “rock bottom” – The Texas Tribune and Reveal – Neena Satija – April 20, 2017
FL: Nonprofit admits more children in state care were forced to sleep in offices than previously acknowledged – Tampa Bay Times – Christopher O’Donnell – July 20, 2016
ME: “Hoteling” the New Term in the Crisis in Foster Care – Thrive Penobscot
GA: Lack of foster families leads to temporary hotel housing for few children – The Times – Nick Watson – April 23, 2015
Be First to Comment