The Federal definition states that Foster Care means 24-hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardians and for whom the State agency has placement and care responsibility. (6) On any given day in the United States, there are approximately 440,000 children living in foster care. These children range in age from 0 to 21 and, on average, will remain in state care for a year and a half. (4) In many cases, sibling groups are separated, and children move from placement to placement and experience no sense of permanency while in the dependency system.
National Foster Care Statistics:
- Each year, more than 400,000 children experience foster care in the United States. (3)
- In 2017, 9 out of every 1,000 children in the United States were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect. (5)
- 15% of children in foster care have languished there for three or more years. (4)
- Of children who entered foster care in 2017, 49% were five years old or younger at the time they entered the system. (6)
- 50% will never graduate from high school or obtain GED. (3)
- Only 15% of foster children will attend college, and fewer than 3% will earn a college degree. (1)(2)
- 25% of foster children experience PTSD (comparable to the rate of U.S. war veterans), and tend to suffer high rates of debilitating depression and low self-esteem. (3)
- After “aging out” of the system, 25% of foster teens will experience homelessness at least once. (2)
San Diego County Foster Care Statistics:
- From July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, approximately 4,000 children spent time in San Diego County's foster care system.
- From July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, 1,121 children entered foster care in San Diego County. Of those children:
- 86% entered foster care because of neglect
- 5% entered foster care because of physical abuse
- 2% entered foster care because of sexual abuse
- 7% entered foster care for other reasons
- In 2017, 44% of children in foster care in San Diego County were 5 years old or younger.
Sources: (1) Dave Thomas Foundation (2) Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles (3) Casey Family Foundation (4) US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, Children’s Bureau, The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Report (AFCARS), Washington, DC (5) National CASA Association (6) US Department of Health and Human Services