In the United States, more than 390,000 children were in foster care in 2021 — the most recent year of data on record. The total number of kids in care has decreased annually since 2017.
Foster care is a temporary living situation for children whose parents cannot take care of them. While in care, children may live with relatives, with foster families or in group facilities. There are four ways children can leave foster care for permanent homes: Reunification with birth parents or primary caregivers, adoption, guardianship, and placement with relatives. Among children exiting foster care each year, nearly half — about 100,000 kids in 2021 — are reunited with a parent or primary caretaker.
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