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Home > Practice Areas > Family Foster Care > Quick Facts About Foster Care

 
 

Quick Facts About Foster Care

Children in Care

513,000 children were in the U.S. foster care system on September 30, 2005. Most children are placed temporarily in foster care due to parental abuse or neglect.

Age of Children in Foster Care

Average age: 10.0 years

Age
Percentage
Younger than 1 year
6%
Age 1-5
26%
Age 6-10 years
20%
Age 11-15 years
28%
Age 16-18 years
18%
Over 18
2%

Race/Ethnicity

As a percentage, there are more children of color in the foster care system than in the general U.S. population. However, child abuse and neglect occur at about the same rate in all racial/ethnic groups.

Read the report, Children of Color in the Child Welfare System, from CWLA's National Data Analysis System.

Ethnicity
Out-of-Home Care
General Population
Black, Non-Hispanic
32%
15%
White, Non-Hispanic
41%
61%
Hispanic
18%
17%
American Indian/Alaska Native, Non-Hispanic
2%
1%
Asian/Pacific Islander, Non-Hispanic
1%
3%
Unknown
2%
N/A
Two or More Races, Non-Hispanic
3%
4%

Gender

Gender
Percentage
Male52%
Female48%

Length of Stay

For the children in foster care on September 30, 2005, the average amount of time they had been in the system was 28.6 months. Half of those leaving care that year had been away from home for a year or longer. 54% of the young people leaving the system were reunified with their birth parents or primary caregivers.

Foster Homes

In 2004, there was a total of 153,000 licensed/certified/approved kinship and non-relative foster homes nationwide. In 2005, 24% of youth living foster care were residing with their relatives.

Adoptions

In 2005, 60% of adopted children were adopted by their foster parent(s). The "foster parent" category excludes anyone identified as a relative of the child. 25% of children adopted in FY 2005 were adopted by a relative. A "relative" includes a step-parent or other relative of the child.

Siblings and Extended Families

Over 2 million American children live with grandparents or other relatives because their parents cannot care for them. When relatives provide foster care (known as kinship care), siblings can often stay together. Kinship care also improves stability by keeping displaced children closer to their extended families, their neighborhoods, and their schools.

Youth in Transition

Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people "age out" of the U.S. foster care system. Many are only 18 years old and still need support and services. Several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these older youth are often left vulnerable to a host of adverse situations:

Outcome
National
Regional/Local
Earned a high school diploma
54%
50%-63%
Obtained BA or higher
2%
2%
Became a parent
84%
42%
Were unemployed
51%
30%
Had no health insurance (unable to obtain health care because they lacked health insurance or sufficient money)
30%
29%
Had been homeless
25%
36%
Receiving public assistance
30%
26%

Sources

Facts About Children in Foster Care

Child Welfare League of America, National Data Analysis System

For more information, contact the Director of Family Foster Care Services.


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