Arizona's social-service agency is bowing out of an $11.5 million federal grant program intended to help place older foster children in permanent homes.

Department of Economic Security officials say the program's research requirements hinder other efforts that the state has under way to improve foster care.

The grant for services in Maricopa and Pinal counties was intended to accelerate permanent placements of foster children who are hard to place once they spend years in foster care.

The Arizona Republic reports that child-welfare advocates decry the state's decision to drop out of the grant program.

The advocates say the decision leaves the state still struggling to help older foster children.