1. Children in Foster Care System
Every week, an estimated 60,000 children are reported as neglected or abused in the United States. In 2004 alone, about 900,000 children were confirmed to be victims of abuse. An estimated 520,000 of these abused children found themselves under foster care. This is double the number of children under foster care 25 years ago. Each year, about 800,000 children come into contact with the foster care system in the U.S.
2. Foster Care Cost
The foster care system in the United States costs tax payers 22 billion dollars each year. This is approximately 40,000 dollars for every child placed under the foster care program. The federal government funding of 5 billion dollars per year is mostly spent on keeping children in foster care programs and does not cater for prevention, treatment, aging out or family support.
3. Temporary Foster Care
Most of the children placed under foster care programs are on temporary care as a result of parental neglect or abuse. In 2004, 304,000 children were placed under foster care temporarily as a result of increased methamphetamine use. According to experts, between 80% and 90% of all foster care placements in the U.S are traced to abuse of substances.
4. Infants in Foster Care
Each year, some 40,000 infants enter the foster care system. Over 20,000 children in the foster care system remain in it until they become of age or age out. Currently, there are about 126,000 children who are available for adoption in the foster care system.
5. Average stay in Foster Care
Children stay in the foster care system for about 3 years on average before they are either adopted or reunited with their families. However, an estimated 20% of the children in the system have to wait for 5 or more years for this to happen. On average, children experience three foster care placements. Frequent placement of children in different homes has profound impact on them. It is common for children to be placed in 20 or even 30 different homes.
6. Foster Care and the Homeless
Most children who are placed under the foster care system end up being separated from their parents and siblings. An estimated 30% of homeless persons in the United States as well as 25% of those in prison are persons who were once under foster care.
7. Reunification with Birth Families
In 2004, an estimated 241,000 children, representing 41% had the goal of their cases as reunification with their families. 48% of these were staying with foster families who were not relatives while 24% stayed with foster families who were also relatives. An estimated 18% stayed in institutions or group homes while 4% stayed in pre-adoptive homes.
8. Race and Age of Children under Foster Care
Half of the children in the foster care system are aged ten or less. Ten years is the average age of the children in foster care. Only 5% of them are less than a year old. An estimated 40% of all children in the foster care system are white, 18% are Hispanic while 34% are black.
9. Social Workers in the Foster Care System
The rate of staff turnover in foster care is over 20% as workers in the system experience burnout and quit the profession in large numbers. The recommended number of foster care cases that each social worker should handle is seventeen. However, in some states, this number reaches four times the recommended number.
10. Future of Foster Care
If things do not change, an estimated 22,500 children will lose their lives due to neglect or abuse before they turn five by the year 2020. Over 10.5 million others will spend time under foster care and over 300,000 children are likely to age out of the foster care in the U.S. An estimated 75000 of these foster youth will be homeless by the year 2020