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[Disclaimer: This project is theoretical and was created as my comprehensive (thesis) project at the University of Oregon for my Bachlors of Interior Architecture in 2016]

Grays Harbor Safe Haven

Project Research

As of September 2013 there were an estimated 402,378 children in foster care ("Foster Care Statistics 2013." Child Welfare Information Gateway). In Washington State, there were approximately 10,339 children according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. Children are placed in foster care for various reasons. Abuse, neglect, abandonment, illness, incarceration, alcohol/substance abuse, and death are among many reasons children are placed in foster care. The average child in foster care is 8 years old and waits for and adoptive family for nearly four years. According to ABC News,

“Children have on average three different foster care placements. Frequent moves in and out of the homes of strangers can be profoundly unsettling for children, and it is not uncommon to hear of children who have been in 20 or 30 different homes. Many have been separated not only from their parents, but from their siblings."

Children in the foster care system need a place to stay while waiting for more permanent placement. This can be seen with the amount of homes some children are placed in through their time in foster care. Currently there is a housing shortage in Snohomish County Washington. There are 46 foster homes and 300 kids in need and statewide there are 5,000 foster homes and 8,000 kids in need.  This shows there is a need to support these kids while they wait for forever families so they are not getting moved from one place to the next. There are many kids that get shipped off to town’s miles away to have a temporary home. This removes them from their school and friends, creating more trauma than what already occurred (Cassuto).

Despite best efforts many siblings in the foster care system are separated and placed with different families or group homes.

According to Madelyn Freundlich,

“Youths in foster care often report that their relationships with their siblings are most important to them and that the separation from brothers and sisters is the most painful aspect of their foster care experience…They may exit foster care feeling that they have “lost” their brothers and sisters” (Freundlich).

These statistics start to introduce the problem of housing shortages for foster care and emergency placement house, the need to keep sibling groups together, and the importance of a sense of place and security. There are finding that suggest that special attention is to be made to children who are removed at younger ages and have spent most of their lives in foster care. They appear to be at a higher risk for not achieving permanence (Kerman,38). This suggests a need to create a sense of permanence while children are waiting for placement, if it ever occurs.

Grays Harbor Safe Haven will be located in Aberdeen, Washington. Abuse, neglect, drugs and alcohol abuse are more present in Grays Harbor County than the rest of the state. According to the Community Needs Health Assessment by Grays Harbor Community Hospital, “1 in 5 students report that they have experienced physical abuse by an adult and 1 in 3 report being a witness of adult to adult violence”. The rate per 1,000 in Grays Harbor County for children in foster care placement in 2013 was 15.4, for King County was 3.0 (KIDS COUNT Data Center).

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