Keeping Kids in Families

Trends in U.S. Foster Care Placement

By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

April 2, 2019


In this data snapshot, the Annie E. Casey Foundation examines how placements for young people in foster care have changed from 2007 to 2017. Using data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Casey finds that child welfare systems are doing a better job of placing kids in families. At the same time, racial disparities persist for kids of all ages and progress eludes teens in care.

To push for further progress, the four-page snapshot tells how states can leverage the federal Family First Prevention Services Act to prioritize family placement and high-quality, family-centered settings to support even better outcomes — and a brighter future — for kids in care.

Table of Contents

Key Finding

The bottom line? States have made progress, but they can and must do more to find families for kids in care

This Data Snapshot shares four ways that states can leverage the Family First Act to connect more kids in foster care with families.

It recommends: utilizing federally reimbursed services designed to maintain child and family connections when a child enters foster care; prioritizing recruiting and retaining kin and foster families, especially for older youth and youth of color; engaging families in decision making; and requiring approval for non-kin placements.

What the New Data on Child Welfare Placements Tell Us

1200x628px Systems Less Likely to Place Older Youth in Families

Growing Pains

The child welfare system is less likely to place older children in families. In 2017, 95% of children 12 and under lived in families while just 58% of teenagers did.

1200x628px Child Welfare Systems Least Likely to Place Black Children in Family Settings

Race Matters

Between 2007 and 2017, the proportion of white kids placed in families grew by 6 percentage points while kids of color experienced smaller gains — between 1% and 5%.

Statements from the Data Snapshot