Facts About Reunification
More than half of the children who left foster care in 2011 went home to their birth parents.
The percentage of children who left the system to be reunited with their families or placed with relatives or guardians has decreased from 70 percent in 2000 to 66 percent in 2011.
Among states, the rate of children being reunified with their families within one year of entering foster care ranges from as high as 76 percent to as low as 30 percent.
The median length of stay in foster care for children before they are reunified is six months.
Infants are less likely to be reunified with their birth families than older children, but more likely to be adopted.
Children removed because they were neglected are reunified with their families at a lower rate than other children.
Black and/or Hispanic children are less likely to be reunified with their families than other children in the foster care system.
The longer a child is in out-of-home care, the less likely reunification will be achieved.
Over 60 percent of infants under a year old in foster care had a case goal of reunification, compared to less than half of children six years and older. Studies show children who are reunified within a year of being in foster care without proper supports for birth parents, are more likely to reenter foster care than other children.
Children under a year old are reunified with their parents only 35 percent of the time.
Nationally, 68 percent of Asian children are reunified, as are 54 percent of whites, 58 percent of Hispanics, and 54 percent of American Indians; for black children the rate is only 48 percent.
Approximately one-third of children who reunify with their parents re-enter foster care within three years.
Children in relative foster care homes, due to a combination of reasons including the stability of these placements, reunify at a slower rate than children in other placements.
- Read the facts about foster care.
- Learn about the role of child welfare systems in providing care and services for children in state custody.
- Find out how Children’s Rights improves failing foster care system through our child welfare reform campaigns and policy advocacy.