Rates of Foster Care Entry in California Fluctuate; Gaps Between Racial/Ethnic Groups Remain
In 2013, nearly 26,000 California children — 2.8 of every 1,000 — entered foster care for the first time. While the rate of first entries has fluctuated since 2000, African American/Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native children continue to enter foster care at more than three times the rate of white and Latino children.
Rates of first entry for African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children in California were 8.5 and 8.8 per 1,000, respectively, in 2011-13. This compares to 2.7 for Latino, 2.6 for white, and 0.7 for Asian/Pacific Islander children during the same period.
Child welfare experts suggest that many factors play a role in this persistent inequity (PDF), including possible biases among social workers, and higher rates of poverty for African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native families, which is associated with higher levels of child maltreatment.
California children are spending less time in foster care than they did a decade ago, although the median number of months in care increased slightly between 2009 and 2011, to 14 months. Higher percentages of children are being reunified with their families and being adopted after long periods spent in foster care.
These changes are due in part to foster care policy shifts that have sped up adoptions, increased family reunifications and improved services to families to avoid having to remove children from their homes, according to child welfare professionals.
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See Foster Care Data in Your Community
Abuse, Neglect, Adoption and Foster Care Research, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
California Child Welfare Indicators Project, California Department of Social Services & UC Berkeley, Center for Social Services Research
Child Trends: Child Welfare
Child Welfare Information Gateway, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau
Child Welfare League of America
The Chronicle of Social Change, Foster Care Online Publication
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First Entries into Foster Care, by Race/Ethnicity (2000-2002 to 2011-2013)