This paper provides the first systematic examination of data regarding children in foster care collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2000 Census was the first Decennial Census in the United States to identify children in foster care and data on foster children have been collected in the American Community Survey (ACS) each year since 2000. Comparisons based on Census Bureau data show that households with foster children are different from other households with children on almost every dimension examined.

June 1, 2008

In This Report, You’ll Learn

  1. 1

    Background on the foster care system and a snapshot of its status in 2000.

  2. 2

    A discussion of the quality and usefulness of the data on foster children derived from the Census Bureau's Decennial Census and American Community Survey.

  3. 3

    A comparison of non-kinship family foster care households to all households with children.

  4. 4

    Characteristics of household living arrangements for foster children.

  1. 5

    Socioeconomic characteristics of households with foster children.

Key Takeaway

Snapshot of the foster care system

In 2000, there were 544,303 children in foster care at the end of September. However, more than 700,000, or approximately 1% of, children passed through foster care at some point during Fiscal Year 2000. 5% of the children born in 1990 had experienced foster care by the time they were 15 years old.

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations