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What's New

AFCARS Shows Decline of Children in Foster Care

Children's Bureau


AFCARS Shows Decline of Children in Foster Care On Thursday, October 24, HHS released the 26th AFCARS Report indicating 3,788 fewer children in foster care in FY 2018 at 437,283, than in FY 2017 at 441,071. 

The AFCARS reports are based on the number of children in the system as of the last day of the federal fiscal year, which is September 30, in this case, September 30, 2018. They were at any point in time, and for the entire year of 2018, 687,345 children spending at least part of the year in care. The September 30 date allows a consistent comparison from year to year. 

The decrease to 437,000 represents the first time since 2011 the number of children in foster care decreased. At the same time, the number of adoptions and children waiting to be adopted increased for the fourth year in a row. The number of adoptions from foster care increased to 63,123, which represents the highest number since AFCARs tracked adoptions. There are also 125,000 children waiting to be adopted, which also represents an increase from 2017 when 123,000 children were waiting.

The number of children that entered foster care in FY 2018 decreased from 270,000 to 263,000, while the number that exited foster care increased from 246,000 to 250,000. (Entries and exits cannot be combined to come up with a final number since some children could enter or exit more than once in a fiscal year and be counted twice). 

According to HHS, slightly more than 94,300 children were removed from their homes in FY 2018 because at least one parent had a drug abuse issue.

The number of youth that were emancipated or “aged out” of foster care steadily declined from 2017 at 19,945 to 17,844 in 2018. This continues a trend of decreases from more than ten years ago when nearly 30,000 youth aged-out of foster care. There are now 12,450 youth ages 18, 19, and 20 in foster care, some of whom may have aged out of care in past years before states had the option to extend Title IV-E foster care to age 21.