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May 2024Vol. 25, No. 4New Data Show Fewer Children in Foster Care for the Fourth Year in a Row

The latest data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) are now available. According to the report, the number of children in foster care has decreased for the fourth consecutive year. The Family First Prevention Services Act has been instrumental in shifting the focus toward preventing foster care placements and preserving families.

Other notable data from the current report, which presents data from fiscal year (FY) 2022, include the following:

  • The number of children in foster care for FY 2022 decreased by nearly 6 percent compared to FY 2021, a greater decrease than FY 2021’s nearly 4-percent decrease relative to FY 2020.
  • The number of children in foster care at the end of FY 2022 was 368,500, compared to 392,000 children in foster care at the end of FY 2021.
  • The number of children exiting foster care has decreased compared to last year (from 214,500 in FY 2021 to 201,400 in FY 2022). Since 2020, the number of children exiting foster care has outpaced the number of children entering foster care. 

State and tribal title IV-E agencies are required to report AFCARS case-level information on all children in foster care and on children who have been adopted and have had title IV-E agency involvement. The way AFCARS data is collected changed significantly at the start of FY 2023. Changes include the type of data collected and the format of the data submissions. The data are intended to help policymakers at the federal, tribal, and state levels assess how many children are in foster care, the reasons they entered care, and how they exited care, as well as to develop strategies to prevent unnecessary out-of-home placements. The AFCARS report also provides information about the children who are removed from their homes, their placement details, and foster or adoptive parents. 

To view the complete AFCARS report for FY 2022, visit the Children's Bureau website. Read the press release for more information about AFCARS report #30 and additional trends in data.