A new report shows the state places 94 percent of kids in foster care in family settings, as opposed to group placements.

New Jersey is one of only four states that placed 73 percent or more of teenagers in families, according to the report, "Keeping Kids in Families: Trends in Placement of Young People in Foster Care in the United States," released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of its KIDS COUNT project.

Mary Coogan, vice president of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, said for foster children, "the research says kids do better in a family setting."

The report also puts New Jersey in an excellent position for compliance with the federal Family First Act, which seeks to place children in family settings, and to avoid foster care altogether in favor of family reunification when possible.

When it comes to placing teens in foster care families, New Jersey fares much better than most other states.

"It is more difficult sometimes because kids who are older (and) have been bounced around a little bit might have some other emotional problems, but I think there's been a concerted effort by the Department of Children and Families, both through our behavioral health system and our child protective service system , o really make sure kids can be with relatives if possible and if not in some type of structured family setting," Coogan said.

Coogan said while New Jersey's record is better than most, "we still really want to work on our front end so that we actually prevent children from having to go into foster care to begin with."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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