What and How Many Children Are In American Foster Care?
On September 30, 2004, 518,000 children were in our country’s foster care system. Most children are placed in foster care temporarily due to parental abuse or neglect.
Average Length of Stay in Foster Care
The average length of stay for a foster child is 2½ years. However, this figure does not include subsequent re-entries into foster care.
Age of Children in Foster Care
Average age: 10.1 years
|Younger than 1 year||5%|
|Age 6-10 years||20%|
|Age 11-15 years||29%|
|Age 16-18 years||18%|
Race and Ethnicity
As a percentage, there are more children of color in the foster care system than in the general U.S. population. Child abuse and neglect, however, occur at about the same rate in all racial and ethnic groups.
|American Indian/Alaska Native, Non-
|Asian/Pacific Islander, Non-Hispanic||
|Two or More Races, Non-Hispanic||
In 2002, there were 170,000 foster homes nationwide.
In 2004, 59% of adopted children were adopted by their foster parents. Of children adopted in 2004, 24% were adopted by a relative.
What Happens to Children Who Leave Foster Care as Young Adults?
Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people age out of the U.S. foster care system. Many are only 18 years old and still need support and services. Several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these older youth often are left vulnerable to a host of adverse situations:
|Earned a high school diploma||
|Obtained college bachelors degree or higher||
|Became a parent 12-18 months after discharge||
|Had no health insurance||
|Had been homeless||
|Received public assistance||
*The above information was provided courtesy of the Child Welfare League of America. For more information contact: Child Welfare League of America, 2345 Crystal Drive, Suite 250, Arlington, VA 22002, or cwla.org.
There are many, many ways to help a foster child and literally thousands of organizations across the country work hard to do that every day with far too little recognition or help.
Listed below are only a few organizations that I know especially well or with which I have worked personally. Like the children and families that they help, these organizations could use your time, energy, and of course, financial assistance. I would also urge you to get involved with organizations that help foster kids in your own community.
The Alliance for Children’s Rights
3333 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550
Los Angeles, CA 90010
The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
1101 15th Street, NW, Suite 1212
Washington, D.C. 20005
Children's Defense Fund
25 E Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Child Welfare League of America
2345 Crystal Drive, Suite 250
Arlington, VA 22002
Foster Care Central
"The #1 Social Network
Improving The Lives Of Foster Youth"
The New Village Charter High School
147 North Occidental Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Shields for Families
PO Box 59129
Los Angeles, CA 90059
St. Anne's Home for Girls
155 North Occidental Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
United Friends of the Children
1055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1955
Los Angeles, CA 90017
If you are an organization that would like to be added to this list, please contact me and I would be very happy to add you.