Foster Care Race Statistics

Updated May 14, 2023 | Posted April 13, 2020
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Update blackchildrencontinuetobedisproportionately 2020

The share of chil­dren who are Black and in fos­ter care is the low­est it has been in two decades. Even so, Black chil­dren are still over­rep­re­sent­ed among youth in fos­ter care rel­a­tive to the gen­er­al child population.

In 2021, Black chil­dren rep­re­sent­ed 14% of the total child pop­u­la­tion but 22% of all kids in fos­ter care.

By com­par­i­son: White kids rep­re­sent 49% of the nation’s child pop­u­la­tion and only 43% of its fos­ter care pop­u­la­tion. Lati­no or His­pan­ic chil­dren rep­re­sent 26% of kids nation­wide, yet 22% of all kids in fos­ter care. And Asian Amer­i­can and Native Hawaiian/​Pacific Islander kids make up near­ly 5.5% of the U.S. child pop­u­la­tion but only 1% of its fos­ter care pop­u­la­tion. In oth­er words, these three groups are under-rep­re­sent­ed in fos­ter care when com­pared to their pres­ence in the total child population.

Like Black chil­dren, Amer­i­can Indi­an and Alas­ka Native kids are also over­rep­re­sent­ed in fos­ter care, mak­ing up 2% of those in care and 1% of the child population. 

Over the last five years, the data on kids in fos­ter care, bro­ken down by race and eth­nic­i­ty, has remained fair­ly steady. White chil­dren make up more than two in five kids in care (43%), while Black and His­pan­ic or Lati­no kids each com­prise more than one in five (both 22%). Mul­tira­cial chil­dren make up 8% of those in care, and Amer­i­can Indian/​Alaska Native and Asian Amer­i­can or Native Hawaiian/​Pacific Islander kids rep­re­sent small­er shares, at 2% and 1%, respec­tive­ly. These fig­ures come from Child Trends, which ana­lyzed data from the Adop­tion and Fos­ter Care Analy­sis and Report­ing System.

This sta­tis­ti­cal sta­sis masks, to a degree, a longer-term trend: the share of Black chil­dren in care has been on the decline for two decades, steadi­ly drop­ping from 39% in 2000 before sta­bi­liz­ing at 23% in 2016 and then falling one more per­cent­age point in 2021. Dur­ing this same time peri­od, the per­cent­age of white kids in care rose from 38% to 43%, and the share of Lati­no or His­pan­ic kids rose from 15% to 22%.

These fig­ures only cov­er chil­dren in the U.S. fos­ter care sys­tem — that is, boys and girls ages 0 to 17. Most states extend some lev­el of fos­ter care ben­e­fits to young adults, who are not includ­ed in this update.

Clos­er looks at the total fos­ter care pop­u­la­tion nation­al­ly and in the states and of fos­ter care chil­dren by age group and gen­der can also be found here on the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter. See also how the over­all pop­u­la­tion of chil­dren in the U.S. has shift­ed, with new data from the 2020 census.

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