Foster Care 1999

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The most recent complete data on children in foster care, summarized below, was released inJanuary, 2000 by the Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Usingdata collected through the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), the Bureau has compiled a comprehensive picture of children in foster care from October 1,1998 through March 31, 1999. AFCARS is a federally mandated data collection program, usingcase specific information submitted semi-annually by the States. Many States have not yetsubmitted complete data for each area.

How Many Children are in Foster Care and Waiting for Adoption?

The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) [formerly the American Public Welfare Association (APWA)] continues to collect national data on adoption through the Voluntary Cooperative Information System (VCIS). Since 1983, the VCIS system has estimated the number of children in foster care based on data submitted voluntarily by participating states.

Based on current AFCARS estimates released January 2000, there are approximately 520,000 children currently in foster care in the United States. Of these, 117,000 are eligible for adoption. (US HHS, 2000)

Historically, the number of children in foster care has increased, while the proportion of children in foster care who are free for adoption has remained constant. In 1977, as in 1997, approximately 20% of the children in foster care were available for adoption. Of the children who were free for adoption in 1977, 50% were in adoptive placements. Of the children free for adoption in December, 1982, 34% were in adoptive placements. Thus, by December 1982, 33,000 children were waiting to be placed for adoption. (Maza, 1983)

Funding

  • Approximately 53% of these children are supported through federal funds. The federal cost of foster care was almost $3.1 billion in fiscal year 1995, and is expected to increase to almost $4.8 billion in fiscal year 2001. The 1995 estimated total State and federal cost for foster care was $4.485 billion. (US HHS)
  • In 1995, federal funding for foster care and adoption assistance under Title IV-E totaled almost $4 billion. It is estimated that the 1996 figures reached $4 billion, while funding will increase to $4.7 billion, (US HHS, 1998)

The most recent complete data on children in foster care, summarized below, was released in January, 2000 by the Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Using data collected through the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), the Bureau has compiled a comprehensive picture of children in foster care from October 1, 1998 through March 31, 1999. AFCARS is a federally mandated data collection program, using case specific information submitted semi-annually by the States. Many States have not yet submitted complete data for each area.

Who are the Children Adopted from Foster Care?

36,000 children were adopted from the public foster care system in Fiscal Year 1998 (Adoptions finalized in federal fiscal year reported to AFCARS no later than May 16, 1999).

Children adopted from foster care, Fiscal Year 1998.

  • Age of Children Adopted - 46% were 1-5 years old, 37% were 6-10 years old, 14% were 11-15 years old, 2% were 16-18 years old and 2% were under a year old when adopted from the public welfare system.
  • Gender of Children Adopted - 51% are male, while 48% are female.
  • Race/Ethnicity of Children Adopted - 38% of the children in foster care are White, while a majority (61%) are of minority background. Of these, 46% of all children are Black, 13% are Hispanic, 1% are American Indian, and 1% are Asian/Pacific Islander.
  • The Relationship of the Adoptive Parent(s) - 65% of the children adopted from foster care are adopted by former foster parents, 15% by relatives, approximately 20% by people unrelated to them and less than 1% by step-parents.
  • Families Receiving Subsidy - 86% of the families adopting children from foster care receive adoption subsidies to help in the long-term care of the child.
  • Adoptive Family Structure - 66% were adopted by a married couple, while 33% were adopted by a single parent.

Who are the Children are Waiting to be Adopted?

  • 117,000 children in foster care are waiting to be adopted.
  • Age of Waiting Children When Removed From Parents/Caregivers - 29% were less than a year old, 42% were 1-5 years, 23% were 6-10 years, 6% were 11-15 years, and less than 1% were 16-18 years old when they were removed from their parents or caregivers.
  • Age of Waiting Children on March 31, 1999 - 2% were less than one year old, 35% were 1-5 years, 37% were 6-10 years, 23% were 11-15 years, and 3% were 16-18 years old.
  • Gender of children waiting to be adopted - 52% are male, while 48% are female.
  • Race/Ethnicity - Approximately 64% of children waiting in foster care are of minority background; 32% are White. 51% of all foster children waiting for adoption are Black, 11% are Hispanic, 1% are American Indian, 1% are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 5% are unknown/unable to determine.
  • Number of Months Waiting Children Have Been in Continuous Foster Care - Approximately less than 1% of waiting children resided in continuous foster care for less than a month. 3% resided in foster care 1-5 months, 6% resided 6-11 months, 8% resided 12-17 months, 10% resided 18-23 months, 10% resided 24-29 months, 9% resided 30-35 months, 26% resided 36-59 months, and 27% resided 60 or more months.
  • Current Placement Setting of Waiting Children - 78% of waiting children reside in a foster home (57% non-relative and 21% relative), 15% in a pre-adoptive home, 1% in trial home visits, 3% in group homes, 5% in institutions, and less than 1% are runaways or in supervised independent living.

How Many Parents of Children in Foster Care Had Their Parental Rights Terminated?

  • How many months did it take after termination of parental rights for the children to be adopted? - Approximately 3% of waiting children have waited less than a month to be adopted after the termination of parental rights. 16% of the children waited 1-5 months, 30% waited 6-11 months, 20% waited 12-17 months, 12% waited 18-23 months, 7% waited 24-29 months, 4% waited 30-35 months, 7% waited 3-4 years and 2% waited 5 or more years.

What are Factors Leading to Children Remaining in Foster Care?

  • For almost 88 percent of the children in foster care at the end FY 1990, there had been no termination or relinquishment of parental rights. (VCIS, APHSA, 1995)
  • Since 1984, the number of children in foster care has increased yearly. At the end of 1995, there were approximately 483,000 children in foster care, a 72 percent increase in the number of children in care in 1986. (VCIS, APHSA, 1995)
  • Returning home is not an option for about 100,000 of the children in the foster care system, yet only 20,000 were adopted in 1995. Approximately 7,000 other children were permanently placed in legal guardianship. (US HHS, 1997)

What Research has been Done in States?

The Multistate Data Archive, conducted by the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, and sponsored by the Children's Bureau, collected information on the foster care populations of California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Texas. These five States serve almost half of the total foster care population.

Number of children in care

In the decade between 1983 and 1993, the number of children in foster care increased 154% in California, 158% in Illinois, 123% in Texas, 120% in New York, and 67% in Michigan.

Kinship care

By 1993, kinship care providers cared for almost half of the foster children in Illinois, 40% of foster children in California, and one third of the foster children in New York.

Average stay in care

The average length of a child's foster stay in foster care in Illinois from 1988 to 1993 was 35.8 months. In New York the average stay was 24.5 months; in California, 18.1 months; in Michigan, 12 months, and in Texas, 8.7 months.

What are the Outcomes for Children in Foster Care?

  • After aging out of foster care, 27% of males and 10% of females were incarcerated within 12 to 18 months. 50% were unemployed, 37% had not finished high school, 33% received public assistance, and 19% of females had given birth to children. Before leaving care, 47 percent were receiving some kind of counseling or medication for mental health problems; that number dropped to 21% after leaving care. (Courtney and Piliavin, 1998)

Bibliography

Courtney, M. and Piliavin, I. (1998). In Struggling in the Adult World, The Washington Post, July 21, 1998. Study conducted by School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin.

Department of Health and Human Services (1998). The 1994 Green Book overview of entitlement, Section 14.

Goerge, R.M., Wulczyn, F.H., and Hardin, A.W. (1995). An update from the multistate foster care data archive: foster care dynamics 1983-1993; California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Texas. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall Center for Children.

Golden, O. A. (1998, September, 15). Testimony on Interethnic Adoptions before Subcommittee on Human Resources, House Committee on Ways and Means. U.S. Health Department, Administration for Children and Families.

Maza, P.L. (1983). Characteristics of children free for adoption. Child Welfare Research Notes #2.


Credits: Child Welfare Information Gateway (http://www.childwelfare.gov)

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