The state of the Nation’s Foster Care System: Part TWO

Children in the Foster Care system have so many special characteristics. Among adding a sense of joy and adventure to the lives of foster families, there is also an element of compassion and heartbreak to content width. We wanted to share some common demographics and statistics about the children in the foster care system, so we can better understand how to support this community of children. This post is the second part of a two part series about the state of the nation's foster care system. These foster care statistics are the most current based on fiscal year 2016 (October 1 through September 30) and provided by the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). This organization collects information on all children in foster care for whom the state child welfare agencies have responsibility for placement, care, or supervision. They also collect information on all children who are adopted with public child welfare agency involvement. Some of these findings reflect a comparison of the fiscal years 2006 & 2016. These numbers give a broad picture of the number of children in foster care during FY 2016 within the whole United States.

Age Children can enter foster care from infancy up to age 18 years (and sometimes older). Point in time: The median age of the children in foster care on September 30, 2016, was 7.8 years. Entries: The median age of children entering foster care during FY 2016 was 6.3 years. Exits: The median age of children exiting foster care during FY 2016 was 7.8 years. Trends: From FY 2006 to FY 2016, the median age decreased for each of the three timeframes

Race and Ethnicity Point in time: The following are the races and ethnicities of the estimated 437,465 children in foster care on September 30, 2016:

  • 44 percent were White.
  • 23 percent were Black or African-American.
  • 21 percent were Hispanic (of any race).
  • 10 percent were other races or multiracial.8
  • 2 percent were unknown or unable to be determined.

Entries. The following are the races and ethnicities of the estimated 273,539 children who entered foster care during FY 2016:

  • 47 percent were White.
  • 21 percent were Black or African-American.
  • 20 percent were Hispanic.
  • 10 percent were other races or multiracial.
  • 2 percent were unknown or unable to be determined.

Exits. The following are the races and ethnicities of the estimated 250,248 children who exited foster care during FY 2016:

  • 45 percent were White.
  • 22 percent were Black or African-American.
  • 21 percent were Hispanic (of any race).
  • 10 percent were other races or multiracial.
  • 2 percent were unknown or unable to be determined.

Gender AFCARS numbers have consistently shown a slightly greater percentage of boys than girls in foster care. Point in time: Of the estimated 437,465 children in foster care on September 30, 2016, 52 percent were male, and 48 percent were female. Trends: The proportion of males to females in foster care on September 30 remained the same from FY 2006 to FY 2016.