New Data: Sharp Decline in California Kids in Foster Care
In California and nationwide, the declining number of children in foster care has been hailed as a child welfare success story, but racial and ethnic inequities and other challenges persist.
In 2012, 55,218 children in California were in foster care, a 49% decline since 1998. The rate at which children first enter foster care fell from 3.5 per 1,000 children ages 0-17 in 1998 to 2.7 in 2012. Overall, California children are spending less time in foster care than a decade ago, although the median number of months in care increased slightly between 2009 and 2010, to 14 months. See foster care data for your county>>
Child welfare experts suggest that these changes are due in part to foster care policy shifts that have sped up adoptions and improved services to families to avoid having to remove children from their homes. Foster youth who are “aging out” also receive more support than in past years, including expanded Medicaid coverage in some states until the age of 26, including in California, and new protections under the Affordable Care Act that allow them to retain their Medicaid eligibility until age 26.
The rate of first entries into foster care continues to vary by race and ethnicity, however. African American/Black and American Indian/Alaska Native children consistently have the highest rates of foster care entry, at 8.2 and 8.3 per 1,000, respectively, in 2010-12; this compares to 2.6 for Latino and white children during the same period. Read more about this topic, including policy implications>>
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 Welfare and Foster Care Systems, Chapin Hall Center at University of Chicago
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
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View this slideshow on foster care trends in California>>