Over 510,000 American children are in foster care, taken away when their families are in crisis and can’t take care of them. But there aren’t enough foster families to take them in. There isn’t enough money to provide them the things every child needs. There aren’t enough people to help them, mentor them, or to simply cheer them up and give them hope for the future.
If nothing changes… by the year 2020:
- 22,500 children will die of abuse or neglect, most before their fifth birthday^
- More than 10.5 million children will spend some time in foster care^^
- More than 300,000 children will age out of our foster care system, some in poor health and many unprepared for success in higher education, technical college or the workforce^^^
- 75,000 former foster youth, who aged out of the system, will experience homelessness^^^^^
Latest statistics from federal AFCARS data, 2006 Who are the children waiting in the U.S. foster care system? 510,000 National children in foster care 32% of foster children are between the ages of 0 and 5 28% of foster children are between the ages of 6 and 12 40% of foster children are between the ages of 13 and 21 Average # of birthdays a child spends in foster care: 2 birthdays (28 months) Average # of placements children experience: 3 17% (88,475) of children live in group care or institutional settings What are United States' foster children waiting for? 248,054 (49%) are waiting to be reunified with their birth families 127,000 (25%) are waiting to be adopted Average time foster care children have been waiting to be adopted: 39.4 months Where did the United States' children go after leaving foster care in 2006? 287,691 children exited foster care 152,152 (53%) were returned to their parents 49,741 (17%) were adopted 45,761 (16%) left to live with relatives (some through guardianships) 26,181 (9%) “aged out” or left the system at age of 18 or older 12,086 (4%) left for other reasons (ran away, transferred, died) 2,349 (1%) left for unknown reasons Would you like to know the statistics of your state? Find it on the statistics page of your state on our State by State page
Child Welfare Statistics The Child Welfare League of America has created the National Data Analysis System (NDAS), which is the most comprehensive collection of child welfare data available. The data contained in the NDAS illustrate the wide variation in the states' collection of information regarding child welfare issues. More helpful statistics are located at the Child Welfare Information Gateway
Transitioning from Care Every year, approximately 18,000 youth will emancipate — or "age-out"— from the foster care system when they reach age 18 or finish high school. Youth in foster care often do not get the help they need with high school completion, employment, accessing health care, continued educational opportunities, housing and transitional living arrangements. Studies of youth who have left foster care have shown they are more likely than those in the general population to not finish high school, be unemployed, and be dependent on public assistance. Many find themselves in prison, homeless, or parents at an early age. Visit Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative for more information.
In 2004, there were about 1,500 confirmed victims from abuse or neglect. See U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2006). Child Maltreatment 2004. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ^^14 Calculated by multiplying the number of children served in foster care in 2005 by 15, the number of years until 2020. This figure was derived by subtracting the number of children who re-entered care (about 100,000) from the number of children served by the foster care system in 2005 (about 800,000). See Child Welfare Outcomes 2003: Annual Report. Downloaded on January 3, 2007 from www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cb. And The AFCARS report: Interim FY 2003 Estimates as of June 2006 (10).Downloaded on January 3, 2007 from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2006). The AFCARS report: Preliminary FY 2005 estimates as of September 2006. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Downloaded November 30, 2006 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/index.htm#afcars. (Go to http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/ and click on “Adoption and Foster Care Statistics.”) About 25% of youth who were placed in foster care experience one of more days of homelessness after leaving care. This statistic was derived by averaging the results of a representative set of foster care alumni studies that interviewed older alumni. The studies were then weighted by study sample size so the larger studies carried more weight inthe average (Casey Research Services)