There are four ways children can leave foster care for permanent homes: Reunification with birth parents, adoption, guardianship and placement with relatives.
Adoption is a legal process that permanently transfers parental responsibility from a child's birth parents to their adoptive parents. After reunification, it is the next most secure permanency option for children in foster care.
In 2021, one in four children exiting foster care — around 53,300 kids in the United States — were adopted. About 80% of these children were under age 11, and more than half — 52% — were between the ages of 1 and 5.
Giving Children in the Child Welfare System the Best Chance for Success
This KIDS COUNT policy report underscores a simple fact about childhood: Family matters. Yet, today in America, 57,000 children are still living in group placements. Readers will learn about limiting the role of residential treatment care to its intended purpose and how state and local leaders can work together to enhance family-oriented services and supports. The end goal? Brighter futures — and loving families — for some of our country’s most vulnerable children.
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.