image

image

 
JOIN 800,000+ MEMBERS JOINJOIN Cancel
image

Foster Care National Statistics

print
bookmark
comment
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
You may use the stars on the left to rate and leave feedback for the current article. No registration is required. Waiting for 5 votes 0.0 of 5 stars (0 votes) — Thanks for your vote

Please fill out the following optional information before submitting your rating:



Since the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997, there has been increasing attention paid to the performance of the child welfare system-how well the system is meeting the needs of the children it is designed to serve. To better understand how well the system is doing, we need to know how many children are affected, who they are, and what their experiences have been in foster care. This fact sheet provides the most recent national statistics for children in foster care, and also provides some earlier data so that we can estimate trends in foster care caseloads and services. For this fact sheet, foster care is defined as

"... 24-hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardians and for whom the State agency has placement and care responsibility," whether or not the placement is licensed or payments are made (45CFR1355.20(a)).

This fact sheet is divided into two sections. The Most Recent Data section presents data from Federal Fiscal Year 1999. The Comparison Data section presents data from two time periods to allow for some estimate of trends over time. Within each section, data is presented for three time frames. Point in Time refers to information about the population of children in foster care on a given day. Entries refers to information about children entering foster care during a given time frame. Exits refers to information about children exiting foster care during a given time frame. Data is not available for all time frames for all variables.

MOST RECENT DATA

Unless otherwise noted, the data presented in this section is from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS)1 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000a). The data is presented for Federal Fiscal Year 1999 (FY99) which extends from 10/1/98 - 9/30/99.


TOTAL POPULATION ESTIMATES, ENTRIES TO, AND EXITS FROM FOSTER CARE

Point in Time. As of September 30, 1999, there were 568,000 children in foster care.

Entries. During the second half of FY99 (4/1/99-9/30/99), 143,000 children entered foster care.

Exits. During the second half of FY99, 122,000 children exited foster care.

DESCRIPTIVE INFORMATION

AGE

Point in Time.

Entries. The median age of children entering foster care during the second half of FY99 was 8.5 years.

Exits. The median age of children exiting foster care during the second half of FY99 was 10.4 years.

RACE/ETHNICITY

Point in Time. Of the 568,000 children in foster care on September 30, 1999, 36 percent were White Non-Hispanic, 42 percent were Black Non-Hispanic, 15 percent were Hispanic, and 7 percent were other races/ethnic origins.

Entries. Of the 143,000 children who entered foster care during the first half of FY99, 46 percent were White Non-Hispanic, 31 percent were Black Non-Hispanic, 13 percent were Hispanic, and 9 percent were other races/ethnic origins.

Exits. Of the 122,000 children who exited foster care during the second half of FY99, 45 percent were White Non-Hispanic, 33 percent were Black Non-Hispanic, 13 percent were Hispanic, and 9 percent were other races/ethnic origins.

GENDER

Point in Time. Of the 568,000 children in foster care on September 30, 1999, 52 percent were male and 48 percent were female.

SERVICE INFORMATION

RE-ENTRIES

Entries. With data from 30 states, it is estimated that 17 percent of children who entered foster care in FY98 had been in foster care before (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000b).

LICENSED FAMILY FOSTER HOMES

Point in Time. Although the total number of licensed family foster homes in the United States is not known, 38 states reported a total of 133,503 homes on the last day of 1998 (Child Welfare League of America, 2000).
ABUSE AND NEGLECT IN FOSTER HOMES

Although this data is not available specific to foster homes, it is estimated that 1.5 percent of children who were maltreated in 1999 were maltreated by "substitute care providers" which includes foster parents, residential care providers, and child care providers. This translates to an estimated 12,390 children out of an estimated 826,000 maltreated children in 1999 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001).

PLACEMENT TYPES

Point in Time. On September 30, 1999, 48 percent of the 568,000 children in foster care were in family foster homes, 26 percent were in relative foster homes, 17 percent were in group homes or institutions, 3 percent were in pre-adoptive homes, and 5 percent were in other placement types.

PERMANENCY GOALS

Point in Time. On September 30, 1999, 42 percent of the 568,000 children in foster care had goals of reunification, 19 percent had goals of adoption, 8 percent had goals of guardianship or custody to a relative, 5 percent had goals of emancipation, 7 percent had goals of long term foster care, and 19 percent had not yet had a permanency goal established.

Exits. Of the 122,000 children who exited foster care during the first half of FY99, 59 percent were reunified, 16 percent were adopted, 12 percent went to a legal guardian or a relative, 8 percent were emancipated, and 5 percent had other outcomes.

LENGTH OF STAY

Exits. Of the 122,000 children who left foster care during the second half of FY99, 21 percent had been in care less than one month, 16 percent had been in care for 1-5 months, 13 percent had been in care for 6-11 months, 19 percent had been in care for 1-2 years, 11 percent had been in care for 2-3 years, 11 percent had been in care for 3-4 years, and 10 percent had been in care for 5 or more years.

COST

The Urban Institute reports that in FY98, the total spending (Federal, State, and local) for out-of-home care was estimated to be at least $9.4 billion (Bess, Leos-Urbel & Geen, 2001).
COMPARISON DATA

This section presents data from two time periods to allow for some estimation of trends over time. However, it must be noted that the data can not be directly compared because of differences in the data collection processes at the two time periods-different collection methods were used, different States may have reported data, and different definitions of some variables may have been used. However, the information presented does offer some estimate of the trends.

The data presented for Federal Fiscal Year 1998 (FY98) is from AFCARS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000a). FY98 extends from 10/1/97 - 9/30/98. The data from 1990 is from the Voluntary Cooperative Information System (VCIS)2 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1998). The time periods for VCIS data vary3, so the phrase "the reporting period for 1990" is used.

TOTAL POPULATION ESTIMATES, ENTRIES TO AND EXITS FROM FOSTER CARE

Point in Time. As of September 30, 1998, there were 560,000 children in foster care in the United States. At the end of the reporting period for 1990, there were 405,743 children in foster care.

Entries. During Fiscal Year 1998 (FY98), 286,000 children entered foster care. During the reporting period for 1990, 214,488 children entered foster care.

Exits. During FY98, 248,000 children exited foster care. During the reporting period for 1990, 186,779 children exited foster care.

DESCRIPTIVE INFORMATION

AGE

Point in time. The median age of the children in foster care on September 30, 1998 was 9.5 years. At the end of the reporting period for 1990, the median age of children in foster care was 9.0 years.

Entries. The median age of children entering care during FY98 was 8.5 years. The median age of children entering foster care during the reporting period for 1990 was 8.1 years.

Exits. The median age of children exiting foster care during FY98 was 10.3 years. The median age of children exiting foster care during the reporting period for 1990 was 10.8 years.

RACE/ETHNICITY

Point in Time. Of the 560,000 children in foster care on September 30, 1998, 34 percent were White Non-Hispanic, 44 percent were Black Non-Hispanic, 15 percent were Hispanic, and 7 percent were other or unknown races/ethnic origins. Of the 405,743 children in care at the end of the reporting period for 1990, 40 percent were White Non-Hispanic, 41 percent were Black Non-Hispanic, 8 percent were Hispanic, and 11 percent were other or unknown races/ethnic origins.

Entries. Of the 286,000 children who entered foster care during FY98, 45 percent were White Non-Hispanic, 30 percent were Black Non-Hispanic, 16 percent were Hispanic, and 9 percent were other or unknown races/ethnic origins. Of the 214,488 children who entered care during the reporting period for 1990, 54 percent were White Non-Hispanic, 27 percent were Black Non-Hispanic, 14 percent were Hispanic, and 5 percent were other or unknown races/ethnic origins.

Exits. Of the 248,000 children who exited foster care during FY98, 44 percent were White Non-Hispanic, 33 percent were Black Non-Hispanic, 15 percent were Hispanic, and 8 percent were other or unknown races/ethnic origins. Of the 186,779 children who left care during the reporting period for 1990, 57 percent were White Non-Hispanic, 25 percent were Black Non-Hispanic, 13 percent were Hispanic, and 5 percent were other or unknown races/ethnic origins.

GENDER

Point in Time. Of the 560,000 children in foster care on September 30, 1998, 52 percent were male and 48 percent were female. At the end of the reporting period for 1990, 51 percent were male and 49 percent were female.
SERVICE INFORMATION

PLACEMENT TYPES:

Point in Time. On September 30, 1998, 48 percent of the 560,000 children in foster care were in family foster homes, 29 percent were in relative foster homes, 16 percent were in group homes or institutions, 3 percent were in pre-adoptive homes, and 5 percent were in other placement types.

PERMANENCY GOALS

Point in Time. On September 30, 1998, 40 percent of the 560,000 children in foster care had goals of reunification, 20 percent had goals of adoption, 10 percent had goals of guardianship or custody to a relative, 3 percent had goals of emancipation, 5 percent had goals of long term foster care, and 23 percent had not yet had a permanency goal established. At the end of the reporting period for 1990, 60 percent of the 405,743 children in foster care had goals of reunification with a parent or relative, 15 percent had goals of adoption, 3 percent had goals of guardianship, 5 percent had goals of emancipation, 12 percent had goals of long term foster care and 4 percent had not yet had a permanency goal established.

Exits. Of the 248,000 children who left foster care during FY98, 62 percent were reunified, 14 percent were adopted, 11 percent went to a legal guardian or a relative, 7 percent were emancipated, and 6 percent had other outcomes. Of the 186,779 children who left during the reporting period for 1990, 69 percent were reunified, 7 percent were adopted, 6 percent were emancipated and 18 percent had other outcomes.

LENGTH OF STAY

Exits. Of the 248,000 children who left foster care during FY98, 21 percent had been in care less than 1 month, 17 percent had been in care for 1-5 months, 14 percent had been in care for 6-11 months, 17 percent had been in care for 1-2 years, 9 percent for 2-3 years, 11 percent for 3-4 years, and 10 percent for 5 or more years. Of the 186,779 children who left foster care during the reporting period for 1990, 21 percent had been in care less than 1 month, 23 percent had been in care for 1-5 months, 15 percent had been in care for 6-11 months, 17 percent had been in care for 1-2 years, 9 percent for 2-3 years, 9 percent for 3-4 years, and 6 percent for 5 or more years.

References
Bess, R., Leos-Urbel, J. & Geen, R. (2001). The cost of protecting vulnerable children II: What has changed since 1996?. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute.

Child Welfare League of America. (1998-2000). Licensed homes and facilities, 1998 [online]. Available: http://ndas.cwla.org/Report.asp?PageMode=0&ReportID=127. Retrieved 3/13/01.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1998). Analysis of State Child Welfare Data: VCIS Survey Data from 1990 through 1994. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000a). The AFCARS report [online]. Available: http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cb/dis/afcars/index.html. Retrieved 3/13/01.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000b). Child welfare outcomes 1998: Annual report. Safety, permanency, well-being. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2001). Child maltreatment 1999: Reports from the states to the national child abuse and neglect data system. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office

This fact sheet is a companion to two other fact sheets, which-when reviewed together-present the continuum of child welfare services data. To see the fact sheet entitled "Child Abuse and Neglect National Statistics" distributed by the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, visit http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/factsheets/canstats.cfm. To see the publication entitled "Adoption from Foster Care" distributed by the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, visit http://naic.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/s_foster.htm.

Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

Visitor Comments (0) - Be the first to comment
Adding your comments contributes to the adoption community. Please keep all comments on topic and civil. Visitors are invited to comment and vote for or flag comments based on appropriateness and helpfulness. All comments must adhere to our commenting rules and are subject to moderation.
Settings Help Feedback
Template Settings
Width: 1024     1280
Choose a Location:
Choose a Theme: