Foster Care Facts

Nearly one hundred times a day, a child in California is placed in foster care. Los Angeles County alone "parents" just under 30,000 abused and neglected foster youth.

Too often, however, the dependent children in L.A. County lag behind national standards in relation to the minimal care and protection we strive to achieve for foster youth. As a result, today's troubled foster youth may become tomorrow's troubled adults. More than half will be unemployed, almost a third will become homeless, and one in five will be incarcerated within two years of leaving foster care.

CLC advocates for greater community involvement and better services to help these children recognize their potential, achieve the goals they set for themselves, and chart a path to a brighter future.

As of September, 2013 there were over 400,000 abused and neglected children and youth in foster care in our nation.1

  • The average amount of time each child spends in foster care is over two years.2
  • Around 43,000 children stayed in the foster care system for five years or more. 3
  • One quarter of children who are removed from their parents to go into foster care are infants.4
  • Approximately 40,000 infants are placed in foster care, where they too often lack the stability that promotes attachment and early brain development. 5
  • Over 250,000 children entered foster care in 2013. 6
  • The annual turnover rate in the child welfare workforce is estimated to be between 30 and 40 percent. 7
  • By September 30, 2013 over 101,000 children were waiting to be adopted. 8
  • About 25,000 older youth "age out" of foster care each year without a permanent family to support them. 9

As a result, the future - for many of these youth - is anything but bright. According to research studies:

  • Over a third of foster youth earn neither a high school diploma nor a GED.10
  • Fewer than half of young adults were employed 12 to 18 months after aging out of the foster care system.11
  • One third of youth who age out of the foster care system evidence mental health problems, the most prevalent diagnoses being Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcohol or substance abuse, and major depression.12
  • Approximately one third of foster children will receive some form of public assistance shortly after aging out of the system.13
  • About one fourth of foster youth will be incarcerated within the first two years after they leave the system.14
  • Almost one quarter of those who have exited foster care have reported to be homeless at least once since leaving the system.15
  • Over two thirds of those who have been released from foster care have reported to have needed food stamps.16

1 US Dept. of Health and Human Services AFCARS report, 2013.
2 ibid
3 ibid
4 ibid
5 US General Accounting Office, (GAO-03-357), 2003
6 US Dept. of Health and Human Services AFCARS report, 2013.
7 ibid
8 ibid
9 ibid
10 Courtney et al., "Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Outcomes at Age 19," Chapin Hall, 2005.
11 ibid
12 ibid
13 ibid
14 ibid
15 Courtney et al., “Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Outcomes at Ages 23 and 24,” Chaplin Hall, 2010
16 ibid