States with the most children in foster care
There are at least 437,500 children who are currently living in foster care throughout the United States. These children have been taken from parents who have not provided adequate care, and have now been placed either in a foster home, with relatives, or in a group home.
Although most states have seen a steady decline in the number of children needing homes over the last decade, most have also seen a shocking reversal in trends in the last few years. Economic recession coupled with the opioid epidemic are the most significant factors in this recent spike in numbers. These circumstances combined with a serious lack of nationwide funding and support are contributing to a foster care crisis.
Stacker has collected data from the KIDS COUNT Data Center to find out the number of children in foster care in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. in 2006 and 2016, as well as the change of percentage of children in foster care over these 10 years. The numbers with the population of the respective states were then compared using data from the American Community Survey 2016.
Read on to find out how the states are ranked by the highest to lowest number of foster care children per 100,000 people in 2016.
Foster care children in 2016: 4,890
Foster care children in 2006: 7,843
10-year percent change: -37.7%
Foster care children per 100,000 people in 2016: 58.1
Virginia comes in with the lowest number of foster children, and this might have to do with the fact that while most states focus on reunification with families, Virginia advocates for adoption. More than 60% of kids in foster care in this state end up being adopted by their foster parent.
Foster care children in 2016: 3,841
Foster care children in 2006: 11,505
10-year percent change: -66.6%
Foster care children per 100,000 people in 2016: 63.8
Maryland comes in with an impressive 66% decrease of foster children in the last decade. However, with recent developments at the border, this number may soon take a spike. In the last year, immigration agents have been sending increasing numbers of children to Maryland since the Trump administration announced it would separate undocumented families at the southwest border.
#49. New Jersey
Foster care children in 2016: 6,527
Foster care children in 2006: 10,594
10-year percent change: -38.4%
Foster care children per 100,000 people in 2016: 73
New Jersey is one of the top states in placing foster children with families, with an impressive 91% of kids placed in homes. The state has shifted from an institutional to a home-based care, thanks in part to the advocacy of children's rights group, Advocates for Children of New Jersey.
#48. South Carolina
Foster-care children in 2016: 3,968
Foster-care children in 2006: 4,920
10-year percent change: -19.3%
Foster-care children per 100,000 people in 2016: 80
Even though South Carolina ranks near the top of the list, the number of children in foster care has increased dramatically over the last five years while the number of beds has decreased. The Department of Social Services has launched the campaign Champions for Children in an attempt to recruit up to 1,500 more foster families.
Foster care children in 2016: 780
Foster care children in 2006: 1,074
10-year percent change: -27.4%
Foster care children per 100,000 people in 2016: 81.9
Despite its good standing, a growing opioid epidemic in Delaware has seen the number of children in need of care rise in recent years. The state—through organizations like Grandfamilies.org—is looking to entice relatives, especially grandparents, to step in and help fill the gap.
Foster care children in 2016: 1,518
Foster care children in 2006: 1,850
10-year percent change: -17.9%
Foster care children per 100,000 people in 2016: 90.2
Idaho stresses reunification with parents, which makes it hard for foster parents interested in adopting children to avoid the emotional turmoil of having to say goodbye to a cherished little one. As a result, many would-be foster parents are currently opting out.
#45. New Hampshire
Foster care children in 2016: 1,220
Foster care children in 2006: 1,146
10-year percent change: 6.5%
Foster care children per 100,000 people in 2016: 91.4
New Hampshire has seen an increase in the number of children entering the foster care system, and there are not enough families or social workers to support the growing number of children in need. One program in place to help is Primary Caring Adults (PCA), where adults can act as guides and mentors without having to commit to foster parenting.
Foster care children in 2016: 2,838
Foster care children in 2006: 2,427
10-year percent change: 16.9%
Foster care children per 100,000 people in 2016: 93
More children than ever are in need of care in Utah, and shelters are filling up fast due to lack of foster families. Many cite funding issues as the reason for recent spikes of numbers of children in need. The compensation rate for foster families has not changed in the last eight years.
Foster care children in 2016: 4,461
Foster care children in 2006: 5,213
10-year percent change: -14.4%
Foster care children per 100,000 people in 2016: 95.3
A similar situation plagues Louisiana, where the foster pay rate hasn't increased since 2007 and the social services agency is understaffed. Budget cuts continue, causing concern for the future of foster care in this state.
#42. New York
Foster care children in 2016: 19,702
Foster care children in 2006: 29,973
10-year percent change: -34.3%
Foster care children per 100,000 people in 2016: 99.8
Although the New York foster care rates have gone down in the last 10 years, reports of child neglect and maltreatment are on the rise. Each year, the Administration for Children's Services removes about 5,000 children in the five boroughs from their parents.2018 All rights reserved.