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April 2010Vol. 11, No. 3Child Welfare Outcomes 2003-2006

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released Child Welfare Outcomes 2003-2006: Report to Congress, the eighth in a series of reports designed to inform Congress, the States, and the public about State performance on delivering child welfare services. Child Welfare Outcomes provides information about State performance on seven national child welfare outcomes related to the safety, permanency, and well-being of children involved in the child welfare system. The outcomes reflect widely accepted performance objectives for child welfare practice.

Data come from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) and the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), and the report includes some data analyses across States.

Highlights of the recent report show:

  • In 2006, 885,245 children were confirmed to be victims of abuse or neglect.1
  • Nationally, approximately 512,000 children were in foster care on September 29, 2006.
  • From 2003 to 2006, 64 percent of States showed improved performance for the percentage of adoptions occurring in less than 24 months.
  • There was a significant improvement from 2003 to 2006 toward fewer placements of young children in group homes or institutions.

The full report is available on the Children's Bureau website:

1 The methodology for calculating the total number of child maltreatment victims differs between the Child Welfare Outcomes Report and Child Maltreatment 2006. In Child Maltreatment 2006, a victimization rate is computed by dividing the total number of victims (885,245) by the child population for the 51 States that reported this data to NCANDS (73,393,682) and multiplying by 1,000. A national estimate of 905,000 child victims was then calculated by multiplying the victimization rate by the national population for all 52 States (74,754,213), dividing by 1,000, and rounding to the nearest 1,000. The Child Welfare Outcomes Report uses the sum of the total number of child maltreatment victims (885,245).