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20 Foster Care Statistics From a Former Foster Child

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How many foster children are there? How long do they stay in foster care? Who are they staying with?

How many foster children are there? How long do they stay in foster care? Who are they staying with?

I Was a Foster Child

I was a foster child. I aged out after floating through more than 30 homes. I never got adopted.

I saw the system in some pretty bad ways. As an adult I want to make sure everyone knows that here in the United States foster children are not okay. There is a misconception that, since we live in this country, surely the government takes care of their youth. This is not entirely true. We as people need to take a stand to protect them. We are their only hope.

If you are thinking of becoming a foster parent do your homework and don't just do it so you can say you did it. It is hard work. We likely will not be well behaved. We are a work in progress . . . forever!

We will test you. We will push your buttons. Foster children are just that: children. They are not perfect, and they will almost always have more behavior issues than a child who grows up in a stable environment. With the right foster parent though, a foster child can heal. They can be complete. They can thrive and sometimes even excel past what was ever thought they could.

Foster Parenting Isn't for Everyone

Foster parenting is not for everyone. It takes time, love, dedication, space in your home, a good income (because the little money you are given is never enough), and endless patience! If you have those things to give, please look into becoming a foster parent.

Here are some things to make you think.

These are not all inclusive signs, but they are a good reference when in doubt. Always contact Child Protective Services or the Department of Social Services if you feel a child is being harmed.

These are not all inclusive signs, but they are a good reference when in doubt. Always contact Child Protective Services or the Department of Social Services if you feel a child is being harmed.

U.S. Foster Care Statistics

  1. In 2010 there were 408,425 children in the foster care system.
  2. 48% were living in non-related foster homes (with strangers).
  3. Only 26% were being cared for by a relative foster home (i.e., with relatives).
  4. Foster care sets permanency goals for all foster children who enter the system.
  5. The system's goal is that 6% remain in long-term foster care. (I do not understand how this can be a goal. Why isn't the goal for 0% to remain in long-term care?)
  6. The system's goal is that 51% of foster children to be reunited with their family.
  7. 7% of foster children stay in the system for 5 years or more.
  8. The average age of a foster child is 9 years old.
  9. In terms of race, 10% of foster children fit into "other" or are multicultural.
  10. 21% are Hispanic.
  11. 29% are Black.
  12. 41% are white.
  13. 52% are boys.
  14. 48% are girls.
  15. Only 6% of aged-out foster children graduate from college.
  16. 40% of aged-out foster children end up homeless.
  17. 25% of aged-out foster children do not even have a high school diploma or GED.
  18. By age 24, 30% fewer former foster children held jobs compared to non-foster children.
  19. The average annual income of an employed aged-out foster child between the ages 18 and 24 is $8,000.
  20. 60% of male aged-out foster children are convicted of a crime before age 24.

Note: These statistics are from 2010.

Report child abuse! You are not being nosy by reporting. You are being a child's hero. Child abuse is everyone's business!

Report child abuse! You are not being nosy by reporting. You are being a child's hero. Child abuse is everyone's business!

What Are You Doing for Foster Children?

You don't have to be a foster parent to help foster children. You also don't have to be rich. Did you know nearly 10 percent of foster children are in group homes? Those group homes take donations all the time. Most have websites with detailed lists of things they need. Anything from toilet paper to ketchup. At Christmas they need gifts. Most foster children carry their belongings in trash bags. So the next time you think there is nothing you can do, think again. Donate to your local group homes. Give them your old suitcases when you buy a new set. Buy a couple of extra items at the grocery store every couple of weeks and donate when you have a bag full. Everyone can make a difference in the lives of these children. Do your part!

United States foster children are not okay. While there are some good loving foster parents, many are not! Our government does not take care of them. The system is understaffed, underpaid and overcrowded. Caseworkers can not keep up with their caseloads. We have to step in to do good for them. We have to all do our part to America's left-behind children.

If you can not locate a group home in your area to donate to, please leave me a comment at the bottom with the closest major city to you and I will let you know what group homes are in your area.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: At which age do most foster children “age out”?

Answer: Anywhere between the ages of 18 and 21, usually. Foster children currently going through a program like independent living often can stay all the way till their 21st birthday. Parole or probation is another thing that may change the age out time. If a youth foster child goes to jail, part of their release requirements is often that they stay in care until they complete the probation or parole. 18 is the most common number, but there are plenty of exceptions.

© 2012 Peeples


Lisa Davila on April 25, 2018:

Hi. I just read your article. Great information. I too was a foster child in the 80's. There were 4 of us.. We all got seperated. We bounced to many orphanages. Eventually we were parted. My brothers got adopted by different ppl.. The system then was bad. No follow ups after i was adopted. I was emotionally abused by my adopted mother. I was told she only took me for the $$

Which was really not a lot. The day i turned 18 she kicked me out. I never had any counseling bf adoption nor after. How sad bc at 3 yrs old i remember my mother telling me she was leaving me and she would come back....i waited she never did. I bounced to over 10 different homes in thr course of 5 yrs. I knew when my social worker came it was time to go to a new home..I hope the system has changed. The last home i was in i was sexually abused at 5 by another foster child. He penetrate me. And told me if I said anything he would kill me in my sleep..I was 5!!! He was older than me i don't know the age maybe he was 12.. I was soo happy to be adopted to get out of that house. But adopted into an abusive home.

Please leave info on local group homes in point pleasant NJ

Thank you

Daniela C on December 13, 2016:

could you tell me what local group homes are near my area. I live in Bloomfield, near Newark NJ

Thank you

Peeples (author) from Florida Keys on May 19, 2015:

Hi Tammy. It appears most of the group homes in your area are run by the baptist coalition. Check with these websites and Thanks for caring!

Tammy on May 17, 2015:

Great piece, as a foster parent to over 50 children and adoptive mother of 3 out of the foster care system, I can tell many horror stories both in and out of foster care. The trashbag issue was always huge to me, I always made sure when a move happened that all their things were in travel bags and backpacs. You would think the state could see how it make a child feel to all they have stuffed in a trashbag. Such a simple thing to do, and yet in all my years not one child ever came with anything other than a trash bag or a box!! Please put me in touch with a good group home in the Oklahoma City, OK area. Thank you!

Peeples (author) from Florida Keys on December 15, 2014:

Thank you all for the comments. Virginia, I ran away from foster care a few times and did the same thing. My choices to live with less appropriate people was a dumb move, but at least it was something I had control over. It is very sad what so many children go through in a system that is supposed to protect them. I am sorry you were part of that system and hope that time has given you a chance to make a better life!

Keargo, check local facebook pages. They are a wonderful place to connect with other people who might also be looking for a way to help.

Thanks again for all the support everyone. Remember at this time of year there are so many children sitting in group homes and foster homes lacking the type of holidays that they deserve.

Virginia on December 13, 2014:

I am a former foster kid too. It was a nightmare that still crops up in memories to this day. It was so bad living in the foster care system that I even chose to go live with other people that were not appropriate (today would be termed kidnappers.) a lot of young boys in foster care that run do not have any help with someone taking them in, and lead to criminal activities to survive. Girls too. It would be interesting to see the statistics or numbers of incarceration that were foster kids at one time. It's sad what this lifestyle can lead to. I'm very grateful to you that you have the guts to speak out about your experience, & I hope others will too.

Keargo777 on July 29, 2014:

Thank you. I'm trying to open up a non profit home for those that age out of foster care. I'm working on how to fund out now. I've already helped quite a few but it takes money time and patience to get them on their feet and on a road to success. Every time I finish with one I gain another, which shows there are so many out there in need of help. I love it, I have gained so many lifetime friends!

Kristy on March 28, 2014:

As a foster mom, I just want to thank you for writing this article. Sometimes it helps for us to hear the voices of people who grew up in our broken system. Numbers can be so easily dismissed, but the voice of a person who has lived it resonates. God bless you, and keep speaking up, these kids need a voice!

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on February 17, 2014:

It's such a crying shame that a system set up to help children often ends up hurting them more!

savvydating on January 25, 2014:

Amen, sister. Do our part! Wiser words were never spoken. Up & useful.

Jo_Goldsmith11 on September 06, 2013:

Remember you are a survivor!

A Fighter~ and keep on, keeping on!

I cringe reading this. I will share my story with you,

if you want in e-mail. If you were my daughter, I would of

fought like hell for you! I am so sorry you had to learn how

to survive, stay on and in the *lines* and try not to give up.

Voted this up +++ shared. hugs! :-)

Shawna Hamilton Hites on July 25, 2013:

I am just beginning to realize the need for foster parents. I have started the process to become certified. I really had no idea how MANY children are in the foster system. I would have done this long ago and am willing to adopt if need be. Every one children deserves a family and a chance. Thanks for writing this. Your point of view really made me realize I'm doing the right thing!

marion langley from The Study on June 28, 2013:

Did you ever get to attend a royal kids camp? I have friends that help run one and was thinking about lending them a hand.

Courtney on April 25, 2013:

I am in the process now of becoming a foster parent. I work for a Sheriff's Dept and had I not have started working here, I would not have realized the need for foster parents. I hear stories all the time about kids that are living lives that no one should have to. We assist DFS on those calls and it has made me start this process. I look forward to hopefully being a light in some of my future foster kids lives. Thank you for the article, really puts things in perspective. I will try to spread the word.

Peeples (author) from Florida Keys on March 21, 2013:

I look forward to reading it!

Sarra Garrett on March 21, 2013:

Thank you Peeples. I'll let you know when my article is finished for your perusal. You are very fortunate for sure.

Peeples (author) from Florida Keys on March 21, 2013:

Not a problem at all Sarra. You are right Sarra, it shouldn't happen that way. I am fortunate though as things turned out ok for me. Thanks for dropping by.

Sarra Garrett on March 21, 2013:

Voted up and Awesome. With your permission I would like to use the link to this hub for a new hub I am writing regarding foster children. I'm so sorry you were one of the 'forgotten' children in our world. It shouldn't happen that way!

Peeples (author) from Florida Keys on March 07, 2013:

I would have loved that lifestyle! I'm sure others would too! Thanks for visiting, and commenting.

LongTimeMother from Australia on March 07, 2013:

What a great hub. I have been a foster mother and, quite frankly peeples, your hubs are inspiring me to perhaps begin another adventure with another child or two. Might take a bit of effort convincing my husband because he seems to be under the mistaken impression that we're winding down our lifestyle a couple of notches. lol.

Okay, so we live off the grid now and grow all our own organic veges and have a few animals. But I would imagine this kind of lifestyle could suit kids quite nicely. My youngest daughter's friends all love to visit. Hmmm ... we'll have to build another bedroom.

Yes, you've definitely started the brain ticking. :)

holdmycoffee on November 26, 2012:

I have read several of your articles and I could see you are on a great mission to educate people! I hope lots of people read your articles and think of what they could do! Voted Interesting and Shared!

Peeples (author) from Florida Keys on September 10, 2012:

Thanks for all the comments. I find it sad that more people do not know these numbers or even that group homes exist. I don't blame the people who don't know, I blame the system that should be doing more to inform the public of what they can do to help. Thanks again!

Carolyn Augustine from Tractor Town, Iowa on September 09, 2012:

Thank you for enlightening us. My grandmother grew up in a group home though her mother was still alive. This was before social security and food stamps. I have a special place in my heart for foster kids because of my grandmother's experience, though I never thought about donating to a group home locally. I will do so now.

GlstngRosePetals from Wouldn't You Like To Know on September 09, 2012:

Awesome hub! Being a former foster child in a group home I can tell you first hand that this hub was a flash back and all this time i thought it was just me. Thank you for sheding light on such a hidden toppic..

Deepak Chaturvedi from New Delhi, India on September 08, 2012:

You are a good fighter and surviour.Thanks to share your hub.

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on September 08, 2012:

I am so sorry that the foster care system let you down after you'd already been abused at home. I read your profile and see you're happy now (and seem remarkably well adjusted for everything you've lived through before finding your "good man." ) I'm glad things finally got better for you, and I'll bet you're a terrific mom to your kids.

Thanks for explaining how we can help kids in group foster homes, something I didn't know (or didn't occur to me) before reading this hub.

Suzie from Carson City on September 08, 2012:

You have just shown me a list of statistics, that have not only stunned me...I am ashamed of my ignorance to these facts. Now, thanks to you, dear woman...I am enlightened and I take our responsibilities to fellowman very seriously. My first action of the day tomorrow morning will be to look up "group foster homes," in my area. I'm already comprising a list of THINGS to bring them!

Thank you. You are a real life hero, peeples.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 28, 2012:

I was in six foster homes in the first nine months but I was one of the lucky ones....I was adopted by very loving people who raised me beautifully. You are a survivor and I admire all survivors. I am glad you found happiness at last; you certainly earned it!

RTalloni on June 16, 2012:

There are too many sad facts in spite of the successes. So glad to see this posted with your fine ending that points out ways to help even if we can't be foster parents.

Peeples (author) from Florida Keys on June 10, 2012:

I agree 100%! It's crazy what they don't allow but I do mostly understand it. The best thing I have found is donating to local children shelters and group homes. The children may not realise you are doing something for them but they will grow up and "get it". The lists of needs are also usually posted on their websites and mae it very easy for anyone to figure out what is in their budget.

34th Bomb Group from Western New York State on June 10, 2012:

In my humble opinion, while not everyone is cut out to be a foster parent, there are many things one can do to help these children. Unfortunately, too many agencies with too little to do, impose ridiculous restrictions on people who just eant to put a little joy in these childrens lives.

While with Social Services, I took it upon myself to grab a couple of "my" kids every Saturday for McD's & a $1.00 movie. It wasn't solely for their benefit - I had a young son who needed to know "how the other half lived" & it made me feel good to do it.

Once Administration learned of these outings (I never tried to hide them & had the permission of the foster parents) I was hauled onto the red carpet & was read the Riot Act.

Why? Ask them. I never was given a good reason, but as I was threatened with the loss if my job should I do it again, I didn't.

What a shame that political appointees would do something like that.

My point? Check before you help so YOU don't wind up in a pickle.

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on June 09, 2012:

I love your suggestions that anybody can do to help foster children. Great suggestions.

Elena from London, UK on June 08, 2012:

Interesting facts and touching read. I am always concerned about Foster Kids. I know for a fact that some are looked after so lovingly but some it's just from frying pan to fire and in some cases, "the system" is too quick to take kids off their parents and place them in Foster Care.

I hope in Future, I can Foster a few kids. I work with kids, so it's something I would love to do.

Great share. Thanks. Tweeted...

34th Bomb Group from Western New York State on June 05, 2012:

Unfortunately, most foster children are ruined for life before they come into care. This includes those taken at birth. They haven't got a chance.

Our author has certainly beaten the odds.

Nan Mynatt on June 04, 2012:

I marked you up on this one. Being a foster child is not easy and away from your relatives. I have been a foster parents for over 12 years. The kids have been damaged and hurt by their parents, other relatives, and foster parents. More people need to get involved and help with the problems.

Peeples (author) from Florida Keys on June 04, 2012:

34, Yes it does suck! Thank you for dropping by. Seafarer Thank you. I hope you can find a way to even do a little in your area to help!

Karen A Szklany from New England on June 04, 2012:

Very well-written and concise....with all of the information that needs to be known about the "system." So sad. I will do my best to find out more about how I can help locally.

34th Bomb Group from Western New York State on June 04, 2012:

Well done. As a former Termination Attorney I could tell you stories -perhaps I will later. "The System" sucks - especially for the poor kids.

Hang in there - you've already beaten the odds.