Foster Care Statistics

One of the great needs and opportunities in our country today is the care of over a half a million foster children. These kids have been removed from their homes when their families are in crisis and can’t take care of them (these families are in great help as well). These kids are in need of temporary families and in most States and counties there are not enough families to care for them.

To put things into perspective, one website states if things don’t change and we don’t find more families for these children then:

By the year 2020:

  • 22,500 children will die of abuse or neglect, most before their fifth birthday^
  • More than 10.5 million children will spend some time in foster care^^
  • More than 300,000 children will age out of our foster care system, some in poor health and many unprepared for success in higher education, technical college or the workforce^^^
  • 75,000 former foster youth, who aged out of the system, will experience homelessness^^^^

Here are the latest statistics from the Federal AFCARS data (2006)

Who are the children waiting in the U.S. foster care system?

  • 510,000 children in foster care nationally
  • 32% of foster children are between the ages of 0 and 5
  • 28% of foster children are between the ages of 6 and 12
  • 40% of foster children are between the ages of 13 and 21
  • Average # of birthdays a child spends in foster care: 2 birthdays (28 months)
  • Average # of placements children experience: 3
  • 17% (88,475) of children live in group care or institutional settings

What are United States’ foster children waiting for?

  • 248,054 (49%) are waiting to be reunified with their birth families
  • 127,000 (25%) are waiting to be adopted
  • Average time foster care children have been waiting to be adopted: 39.4 months

Where did the United States’ children go after leaving foster care in 2006?

  • 287,691 children exited foster care
  • 152,152 (53%) were returned to their parents
  • 49,741 (17%) were adopted
  • 45,761 (16%) left to live with relatives (some through guardianships)
  • 26,181 (9%) “aged out” or left the system at age of 18 or older
  • 12,086 (4%) left for other reasons (ran away, transferred, died)
  • 2,349 (1%) left for unknown reasons

Find statistics for your state here.

Child Welfare Statistics

The Child Welfare League of America has created the National Data Analysis System (NDAS), which is the most comprehensive collection of child welfare data available. The data contained in the NDAS illustrate the wide variation in the states’ collection of information regarding child welfare issues. View the data

Transitioning from Care

Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people “age out” of the U.S. foster care system. Many are only 18 years old and still need support and services. Several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, the future of these young adults is tragic:

  • Earned a high school diploma         54%
  • Obtained a Bachelor’s degree or higher     2%
  • Became a parent                 84%
  • Were unemployed                 51%
  • Had no health insurance             30%
  • Had been homeless                 25%
  • Were receiving public assistance         30%
Sources^ In 2004, there were about 1,500 confirmed victims from abuse or neglect. See U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2006). Child Maltreatment 2004. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


^^14 Calculated by multiplying the number of children served in foster care in 2005 by 15, the number of years until 2020. This fi gure was derived by subtracting the number of children who re-entered care (about 100,000) from the number of children served by the foster care system in 2005 (about 800,000). See Child Welfare Outcomes 2003: Annual Report. Downloaded on January 3, 2007 from And The AFCARS report: Interim FY 2003 Estimates as of June 2006 (10).Downloaded on

January 3, 2007 from

^^^U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2006). The AFCARS report: Preliminary FY 2005 estimates as of September 2006. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Downloaded November 30, 2006 from (Go to and click on “Adoption and Foster Care Statistics.”)

^^^^About 25% of youth who were placed in foster care experience one of more days of homelessness after leaving care. This statistic was derived by averaging the results of a representative set of foster care alumni studies that interviewed older alumni. The studies were then weighted by study sample size so the larger studies carried more weight inthe average (Casey Research Services)

Adopting Every Waiting Child in the US

Did you know that there are roughly 130,000 children that are waiting for adoption in the United States today? These children have had their parental rights terminated and living in temporary situation (either a temporary foster family or group home). Legally they are wards of the State with no parents but the government. You can adopt these children at no cost! In fact, in most States, you will receive a monthly stipend.

Every child in America (in the world) should have a permanent family. There is no excuse for this! So, what would it take to find each of these kids a family? To start off, I broke down the numbers by Southern Baptist Churches (they were the easiest to find figures for – as I have time I will add up all the other evangelical denominations – my initial count is roughly 170,213). But, just counting Southern Baptist churches the results and ratios are very powerful. There are roughly 40,000 Southern Baptist Churches in the US. If every church committed to 3 children, every child would be cared for. In 11 States all it would take is 1 church committing to 1 child. Again, that is just counting the SBC!

Will you please 1) Look at the numbers below, and 2) pray with me that God would move in an unprecendented way among His church to see that every one of these children (every number is a child!) have a permanent home. And in the case of the children represented below who are 16-17 years old and about to age out of the system, pray that they would have a family who would commit to care for them when they are left on their own in a couple months or a year.
Picture 16

For the full chart with all 50 States click here to download in pdf.

Orphan Statistics

These are the most recent and reliable statistics on the global orphan situation.

  • The most recent estimate is that there are approximately 145 million orphans in the world (UNICEF 2008). For this number, an orphan is defined as a child who has lost one or both parents.
  • More than 15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS, over 11.6 million of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In 2007 67.5 million Children in South Asia and East Asia had lost one or both parents due to all causes.
  • Included in the 2008 estimate of 145 million orphans are more than 92 million that have a surviving mother—-with whom they most likely live.
  • Another 38 million have a surviving father.
  • The UNICEF orphan numbers DON’T include abandonment (millions of children) as well as sold and/or trafficked children.
  • The UNICEF orphan numbers DON’T include many non-reporting nations (namely, Middle Eastern Islamic nations) where shame and divorce abandonment are rampant. 200,000 + orphans in Iraq, for instance, are not part of the count.
  • We are looking at a number quite higher than 15 million “double orphans.” Best guess is somewhere around 40 or 50 million.
  • According to data released in 2003 as many as eight million boys and girls around the world live in institutional care. Some studies have found that violence in residential institutions is six times higher than violence in foster care, and that children in group care are almost four times more likely to experience sexual abuse than children in family based care.
  • As of 2002 in Europe and Central Asia, over one million children lived in residential institutions.
  • Worldwide an estimated 300 million children are subjected to violence, exploitation and abuse, including the worst forms of child labour in communities, schools and institutions, during armed conflict, and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage.
  • In the US there are approximately 500,000 children in foster care (Based on data submitted by states as of January 16, 2008)
  • 130,000 of those children in foster care are waiting and available for adoption. Children waiting to be adopted include children with a goal of adoption and/or whose parental rights have been terminated. Children whose parental rights have been terminated, who are 16 years old and older, and who have a goal of emancipation are excluded from the “waiting” population. An individual child is included in the count for each year that he or she has these characteristics on the last day of the year.
  • Approximately 51,000 children are adopted from the foster system each year.
  • That leaves 79,000 children annually in the US needing an adoptive family.
  • Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people “age out” of the U.S. foster care system. Many are only 18 years old and still need support and services. Several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these older youth are often left vulnerable to a host of adverse situations:

Earned a high school diploma         54%
Obtained a Bachelor’s degree or higher     2%
Became a parent                 84%
Were unemployed                 51%
Had no health insurance             30%
Had been homeless                 25%
Were receiving public assistance         30%

Sources:,,, Young adults ages 18-24 years old 2.5 to 4 years after leaving foster care: Cook, R. (1992). Are we helping foster care youth prepare for the future? Children and Youth Services Review. 16(3/4), 213-229. Cook, R.; Fleishman, E., & Grimes, V. (1989). A National Evaluation of Title IV-E Foster Care Independent Living Programs for Youth (Phase 2 Final Report, Volume 1). Rockville: Westat, Inc.,,

I list these statistics with a broken heart and realization that each number represents a real, living child who is in desperate need of care and a family. We can become easily overwhelmed with these statistics but I pray for my self and for the church that they would lead us to pray more specifically and passionately for them. I pray they will move us to act with greater urgency to see each one of these children cared for in the name of Christ.

“Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

Almost 120,000 Russian orphans adopted last year

Just saw this on the Russian News & Information Agency. The most interesting figure for me is that of the 120,000 orphans adopted 115,700 were adopted within Russia, a 14.5% increase from the previous year! That is very good news, though I wonder how many orphans are left unadopted each year.

MOSCOW, February 29 (RIA Novosti) – Some 120,000 Russian orphans
were adopted both in Russia and abroad in 2007, a 6.4% increase from
2006, an official with Russia’s Science and Education Ministry said on

“A significant growth in the amount of children
adopted was seen in more than 40% of Russian regions,” said Alina
Levitskaya, the director of the ministry’s department for education,
higher education and social protection.

The official added,
however, that number of foreigners adopting Russian children had almost
halved. The number of people in Russia adopting children saw a 14.5%
growth from 2006, however. Only 4,300 Russian orphans were adopted by foreigners last year.

Russia’s authorities have been seeking tighter control over foreign
adoptions following several high-profile scandals involving Russian
orphans abroad, notably the killing of a 2-year-old girl from Siberia
by her adoptive mother in the United States. The woman, Peggy Sue Hilt,
was sentenced to 25 years in prison in May 2006 after a court in North
Carolina convicted her on second-degree murder charges. In an
effort to protect Russian children eligible for adoption, the
government then moved to ban foreigners from adopting children except
for via officially registered agencies.