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 nearly 424,000 children in foster care in the United States.
In 2019, over 672,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care.
On average, children remain in state care for over a year and a half, and five 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 entering care is 8.
In 2019, one third of children entering U.S. foster care were young people of color.
While most children in foster care live in family settings, a substantial minority — 10 percent — live in institutions or group homes.
In 2019, more than 17,000 young people aged out of foster care without permanent families. Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to forever families have a higher likelihood than youth in the general population to experience homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration as adults.
While states should work rapidly to find safe permanent homes for kids, on any given day children available for adoption have spent an average of about one and a half years waiting to be adopted since their parental rights were terminated.
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