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October 2010Vol. 11, No. 8AFCARS Shows Reductions in Foster Care Population

At the end of August, the Children's Bureau posted new statistics on the numbers of children involved with the child welfare system. Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report #17, which provides preliminary estimates for fiscal year (FY) 2009, indicates that, on September 30, 2009:

  • There were 423,773 children in foster care.
  • The children had an average age of 9.6 years.
  • The largest percentage of children (48 percent) were in foster family homes with nonrelatives, followed by 24 percent in foster homes with relatives.
  • The case goals of almost half of the children (49 percent) were to reunify with parents or caregivers. Another 25 percent (114,556) were awaiting adoption.
  • Of the children in foster care, 40 percent were White, 30 percent were Black, and 20 percent were Hispanic.

In addition, the report indicates that 57,466 children were adopted from foster care during FY 2009; 54 percent were adopted by their foster parent.

The numbers reflect a trend that began in 2006 of decreases in the numbers of children in foster care, entering care during the year, and awaiting adoption.  In FY 2005, there were 511,000 children in foster care.

The Children's Bureau website also provides an updated Trends in Foster Care and Adoption chart, which now displays numbers from FY 2002 through FY 2009. Through AFCARS, the Children's Bureau collects case-level information from States on all children in foster care for whom State child welfare agencies have responsibility for placement, care, or supervision and on children who are adopted from foster care.

Find the latest AFCARS reports on the Children's Bureau website: