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June 2004Vol. 5, No. 5Report Assesses Child Welfare Performance Outcomes


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Children's Bureau has released Child Welfare Outcomes 2001: Annual Report to Congress. Now in its fourth year, this report provides data on the performance of States in meeting the needs of children and families who come into contact with the child welfare system.

The report provides information pertaining to each State’s performance on a national set of child welfare outcomes and measures for a 4-year period from 1998 to 2001. Two Federal data reporting systems, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) and the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) are used to gather data on seven outcomes:

  • Reduce recurrence of child maltreatment
  • Reduce maltreatment in foster care
  • Increase permanency for children in foster care
  • Reduce time in foster care to reunification
  • Reduce time in foster care to adoption
  • Increase placement stability
  • Reduce placement of young children in group homes and institutions.

Although it is too early in the assessment process to identify trends, the report does identify some key findings, including:

  • States are experiencing challenges in preventing maltreatment recurrence, but they are seeing greater success in preventing maltreatment of children in foster care.
  • The vast majority of children exiting foster care are discharged to permanent homes, but this number is lower for children with disabilities and those who enter foster care as adolescents.
  • States are having success in achieving reunification within 12 months, but many of these States also exhibit high rates of re-entry into foster care.
  • States are experiencing challenges in achieving adoptions within 24 months.

Additional information from the Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSRs) provides context for the results observed in each State. For example, the CFSRs indicate that re-entry into foster care may be due to a lack of post-reunification services to support children's reintegration into the family and to monitor their safety on an ongoing basis.

The report can be downloaded from the Children's Bureau website at Additional copies may be ordered by contacting the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information at (800) 394-3366 or