Foster Care

Many of America’s child welfare systems are badly broken — and children can suffer serious harm as a result. Some will be separated from their siblings. Others will be bounced from one foster care placement to another, never knowing when their lives will be uprooted next. Too many will be further abused in systems that are supposed to protect them. And instead of being safely reunified with their families — or moved quickly into adoptive homes — many will languish for years in foster homes or institutions.

On any given day, there are approximately 397,000 children in foster care in the United States.

In 2012, about 640,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care.

On average, children remain in state care for nearly two years and nine percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years.

Despite the common perception that the majority of children in foster care are very young, the average age of kids in care is 9.

In 2012, more than half of children entering U.S. foster care were young people of color.

Twenty-six percent of children in U.S. foster care are African American, double the percentage of African American children in the U.S. population.

While most children in foster care live in family settings, a substantial minority — 15 percent — live in institutions or group homes.

In 2012, more than 58,000 children who were living in foster care and waiting to be adopted had their biological parental rights permanently terminated. And, while states should work rapidly to find safe permanent homes, children spend an average of nearly two years (22.2 months) waiting to be adopted.

In 2012, more than 23,000 young people aged out of foster care without permanent families. Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to forever families are highly likely to experience homelessness, unemployment and incarceration as adults.