Number of Kids in Foster Care Increases for First Time Since 2005

Posted May 1, 2015, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog numberofkidsinfostercareincreases 2015

After a decade of steady decline, the num­ber of chil­dren in fos­ter care increased from 2012 to 2013. In 2013, there were approx­i­mate­ly 402,000 chil­dren in the sys­tem. This increase is not nec­es­sar­i­ly bad or good, nor does it mean that the child wel­fare sys­tem is per­form­ing worse or bet­ter. It means that agen­cies deter­mined that more chil­dren required tem­po­rary place­ment out­side their homes to keep them safe. Case­load num­bers alone don’t tell us how chil­dren are far­ing or whether agen­cies are mak­ing bet­ter deci­sions about who enters care. But the num­bers do under­score the crit­i­cal impor­tance of ensur­ing that agen­cies are bring­ing to bear the most effec­tive resources, ser­vices and sup­port to help chil­dren live with fam­i­lies when­ev­er safe­ly possible. 

Thir­ty-four states saw an increase in the num­ber of chil­dren in fos­ter care. Cal­i­for­nia, Okla­homa, Indi­ana and Ari­zona, states that saw the largest rise, account for more than 50% of the increase.

Of those chil­dren who are in fos­ter care: 40% are below the age of 6, 42% are white, 24% are Black, 22% are Lati­no and 12% other.

Explore new child wel­fare data avail­able for the nation, states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia in the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter:

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