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Facts about Foster Care

A blog post from CFR, the Center for Family Representation, based in New York City.

Facts about Foster Care: NYC, the U.S., & Outcomes

These facts represent each day of National Foster Care Month in May. They were compiled to raise awareness for the thousands of children in foster care.

1. There are more than 400,000 children living in the foster care system in the United States today. (Source)

2. More than 24,000 children age out of the foster care system every year nationwide, and more than 1,200 in New York City alone. (Source)

3. Today in New York City, nearly 13,000 children live in the foster care system and they stay in care for a median of 6.8 months. (Source)

4. Children who spend time in foster care often face serious challenges later in life. They are more likely to experience teen pregnancy, homelessness, incarceration, mental health issues, and less likely to complete their education or find employment.

5. A recent study in of youth in the California foster care system found that just 45% of foster youth completed high school, compared with 79% of the general population. (Source)

6. A program evaluation of a transition program for foster youth in Los Angeles found that teens had spent an average of 8 years in the foster care system, during which they’d experienced an average of 6 different placements. (Source)

7. Foster youth who take a basic skills course are 46% more likely to continue their college education for a second year than those who do not, according to a new study of more than 11,300 children in the California foster care system. (Source)

8. Nationwide, 51% of foster youth were reunified with their families after exiting the foster care system in 2012. (Source)

9. By age 26, female former foster youth are more than twice as likely to have a college degreethan males. (Source)

10. Last year, children in the foster care system in the United States stayed in care for an average of 21 months. (Source)

11. Nationwide, 70% of children in the foster care system also have a sibling in care. (Source)

12. Happy Mother’s Day! Of the thousands of clients CFR serves, 76% are women. Read more about Our Families!

13. In New York State, 52% of children who age out of the foster care system are reunified with their families. (Source)

14. Foster care alumni experienced PTSD at a rate nearly 5 times that of the general population. (Source)

15. In New York City, nearly half of foster youth face unemployment upon aging out of the system. (Source)

16. Parents who have a disability are more than twice as likely to be involved in the child welfare system as parents who do not. (Source)

17. Male former foster youth are more than 4 times as likely to be arrested than the general population, and females are 10 times more likely. (Source)

18. In 2012, more than 58,500 children in foster care had parents whose parental rights were terminated. These children are left in foster care to await adoption. (Source)

19. Former foster youth experience more than 7 times the rate of drug dependence and nearly 2 times the rate of alcohol dependence experienced in the general population. (Source)

20. Despite facing many hardships throughout their lives, a survey of former foster youth found that by age 26, nearly two thirds of respondents were satisfied with their lives and optimistic about the future. (Source)

21. For every $6 spent on children in foster care, just $1 is available to fund services for families that will prevent foster care placements.


22. In the US in 2012, the average age of a child entering the foster care system is 9 years old. (Source)

23. In New York State, it costs an average of $29,000 per year to keep one child in the foster care system. (Source)

24. Homeless families are nearly 9 times more likely to have their children placed in foster care. (Source)

25. 4,203 children were placed in foster care in New York City in 2013. (Source)

26. By age 19, just 25% of foster youth are in college compared with 41% of general population. (Source)

27. One quarter of former foster youth experiencehomelessness within 4 years of exiting the foster care system. (Source)

28. The federal government spends $4.4 billion each year on Title IV-E funds to maintain children in the foster care system. (Source)

29. From 2012 and 2013, the NYC community district containing Jamaica, Queens, where CFR’s office is located, went from having the highest rate of foster care placements to the 7th. (Source)

30. African American children represent 29% of the children in foster care, but only 14% of the U.S. child population. (Source)

31. In the 10 years since CFR’s founding, the population of children in foster care in New York City has been reduced by 50%. (Source & Source)

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