Over 400,000 American children are in foster care, taken away when their families are in crisis and can’t take care of them. Who are these children? Where do they live? These statistics will help you better understand their world.
The Current State of Foster Care
The latest statistics from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data for FY 2014.
415,129 children were in foster care on September 30th, 2014, a 4% increase from 2012
264,746 children entered care - that translates to a child entering care every two minutes in the United States
238,230 children exited foster care
107,918 children waiting to be adopted on September 30th, 2014
60,898 children waiting to be adopted whose parental rights (for all living parents) were terminated
50,644 children adopted with public child welfare agency involvement
Who are the 415,129 foster children?
39% 5 years old or under
23% 6 to 10 years old
22% 11 to 15 years old
16% 16 to 20 years old
2% American Indian/Alaskan Native
24% Black or African American
0% (525) Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander
22% Hispanic (of any race)
3% Unknown/Unable to Determine
7% Two or more Races
Where are foster children living?
- 4% Pre-Adoptive Home
- 29% Foster Family Home (Relative)
- 46% Foster Family Home (Non-Relative)
- 6% Group Home
- 8% Institution
- 1% Supervised Independent Living
- 1% Runaway
- 5% Trail Home Visit
Why did the 238,230 children leave care in 2014?
- 51% Reunification with Parent(s) or Primary Caretaker(s)
- 7% Living with other Relative(s)
- 21% Adoption
- 9% Emancipation
- 9% Guardianship
- 2% Transfer to Another Agency
- 0% (1,138) Runaway
- 0% (326) Death
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 Out of Care
In 2014, 22,392 youth emancipate* — or "age-out"— from the foster care system when they reach age 18 or finish high school. (Some states have extended care through the ages of 20 or 21.) 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.
*Source: Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) FY 2014 data