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Foster Care Statistics

How many children are in foster care?

Nationwide, more than 463,000 children live in foster care. In California, which has the largest foster care population than any other state, the number of foster youth has tripled in the last 20 years (Source:  AFCARS Report 2009).

Why are these children placed in foster care?

Children enter foster care for several reasons:

  • 18.8% Physical Abuse
  • 7.9% Emotional abuse
  • 6.2% Sexual Abuse
  • 3.2% Caretaker Inability

Source: Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services. (March 2007). Fact Sheet, Child Welfare Services. Downloaded April 2007 from

What happens if the court orders removal of a child from the home?

If the Juvenile Division decides that it is necessary to remove a child from the home, several possibilities exist:

  • the child may be placed with the other parent, if they are separated or divorced
  • the child may be placed with relatives, or in a foster or group home

Where the child goes depends on the needs of the child. The court will order that the parents and the child protection agency work together to reunite the family as quickly as possible. Court hearings are held at least every six months if a child is removed from the home to make sure that efforts are being made to bring the child safely back home. The hearings may be held more often if needed.

Source: Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services. Frequently Asked Questions.  (Source:

If children are placed in foster care, do parents see them again?

Yes.  Parents are expected to visit regularly, except in unusual circumstances. The parent/child relationship must be maintained if at all possible. It is very hard for children to be separated from their parents, even when the parents have harmed the child. No one can easily replace a child's parents.

Source: Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services. (Source:

What happens to foster youth who emancipate (age-out) from the system?

  • 65% emancipate without a place to live
  • Less than 3% go to college
  • 51% are unemployed
  • Emancipated females are 4 times more likely to receive public assistance than the general population
  • In any given year, foster children compromise less than 0.3% of the state's population, and yet 40% of persons living in homeless shelters are former foster children. A similarly disproportionate percentage of the nation's prison population is comprised of former foster youth.

Source: California Progress Report. (January 17, 2007). "Expanding Transitional Services for Emancipated Foster Youth: An Investment in California's Tomorrow." The Children's Advocacy Institute.

What can I do to help?

There are numerous ways the community can support youth in foster care. Below are a few options:

  • Become a Mentor with Children Uniting Nations. By giving some of your time as a mentor, you can inspire a youth to reach their full potential.
  • Make a financial donation to Children Uniting Nations to help sustain our mission. Your contribution will help us provide these children with permanent mentors.

Children Uniting Nations  •  6380 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1606  •  Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (323) 452-4962  •  Fax: (323) 944-0800

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