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:
- Children in foster care
- Children entering foster care