Who Are the Children in Foster Care?

Over half a million children are currently in the U.S. foster care system.

Types of Children in Foster Care

  • Infants
    Infants comprise nearly 25 percent of all children admitted to foster care. The majority of children in foster care (60 percent) are under the age of 4 and 32 percent of foster care children are between the ages of 13 and 18, even though they comprise only 12 percent of the U.S. population.
  • Children of Color
    The majority of children in foster care are children of color. In fact, between 1980 and 1995, the percentage of children of color in foster care grew from 47 percent to 61 percent. About 44 percent of the children in foster care are African American, 12 percent are Latino and 3 percent are Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander, according to the most recent available data.
  • Special Needs
    Children entering foster care bring with them special needs ranging from moderate to severe emotional, behavioral or developmental problems.
  • Children Born with HIV/AIDS and LGBT Youth
    Many LGBT and questioning young people end up in foster care because they are unwelcome or unsafe at home. HIV/AIDS orphans also end up in foster care after the death of their biological parent or parents.

What to Find out Before You Say "Yes"

Put aside the images of Little Orphan Annie optimistically dreaming about tomorrow. There is a good chance that a child placed with you has suffered abuse, neglect or - at best - indifference. These are children the state had to remove from their homes and they will have all the problems other kids do, and then some.

Suggested Questions

  • What is the child's name, age and sex?
  • Why is the child being placed?
  • What is the child's medical history and current medical needs?
  • What was the last school attended? And how was he or she performing in school?
  • Are there any known dangerous propensities such as gang affiliation, sexually acting out, setting fires, stealing or lying?
  • Has the child been in foster care before? In how many homes? What was the average length of stay? And why?