Foster care is a living situation for children whose parents cannot take care of them and whose need for care has come to the attention of child welfare agency staff. There are many reasons a child is placed in foster care, as illustrated by this chart. A child's age entering foster care ranges from less than one year to 18. The median age is 7.8. (AFCARS)
While in foster care, the child may live with relatives, foster families, or in group facilities. The fostering agent must be government-approved and is compensated for expenses by the government. There is an attempt made not to separate siblings who enter foster care simultaneously, but this is not guaranteed.
Placement in foster care is intended to be temporary. Just over half of the foster kids are reunified with their parents or primary caregiver before they reach the age of 18. About 20,000 kids per year stay in foster care until they turn 18 or graduate from high school (if older than 18), at which point they are expected to move out of their current residence and start their lives on their own. The term used to describe this is “aging out.” Some states allow a child to remain in foster care until age 21.
33% of children entering care will have been in care before.
25% of children experiencing foster care show signs of PTSD. (Foster Club)
55% of foster kids graduate from high school. (FosterSuccess)
Only 50% of children who experience foster care will be employed by the age of 24 (Foster Focus).
50% of them experience homelessness. (Foster Focus)
The statistics shown above are based on 2019 data published in March 2021 by the Child Welfare Agency unless otherwise noted.