Last month, we shared our first set of infographics to visualize data from the Durham Department of Social Services. Our latest findings reinforce Toia’s personal experience: as we continue to review the public records – which DSS denied to us until we sued them under the Public Records Act – we continue to find alarming facts about a system that is harming children.

Infographic reading: In SFY 2021-2022, 65% of children were placed in a non-kin placement during their foster care episode; 35% of children were placed in a kin placement during their foster care episode.
Infographic with a bar chart showing median days before DSS accomplishes reunification. Durham County DSS is 677 days, Wake 578, Mecklenberg 541, Wilson 434, and Warren 259.

Forced family separation of any length imposes life-long trauma on a child. Keeping families together with the services and resources they need to thrive is vital to promoting the well-being of children. Yet, ⅔ of Durham children are placed with non-kin for foster care, and Durham is the second slowest county to reunify kids with families out of the 100 counties across the state. Over 70% of foster children are still in custody after two years.

Infographic titled, "Investigated Reports in Durham Co. Jul 2021 - Apr 2022." Shows that 7 out of 10 (73.8%) of children are still in custody after 720 days. At the bottom it reads, "Families remain separated for lengthy and traumatic periods due to repeated court delays, social worker turnover, and a lack of consideration of the urgency.

Dismantling families is wrong. Relying on the foster care system rather than providing biological families the resources they need is a bad idea. It harms kids way more than it helps them. We need to stop thinking that this system “helps kids” and start listening to what families really need to thrive.