How Many Children Are in Foster Care in the US?

Foster children standing in front of an American flag

Here in Virginia and all across the United States, there's an urgent need for people to become foster parents and help youth needing a temporary, loving home. In the Hampton Roads area alone, there are around 1,000 kids in the local foster care system. The same is true in many other areas of the state. 

But how many children are in foster care in the US overall? Find out how many kids and teens out there need help, key foster care statistics, and how fostering a child can transform your life for the better. 

What's the State of the Foster Care System Today?

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the foster care system.

A recent study of youth in foster care at the time or experiencing homelessness found that four out of five said COVID majorly affected their health and wellness. It was a significant blow for the many children in the foster care system already experiencing trauma. 

There was also an alarming lack of families willing to take foster children into their homes. For instance, in Chicago, there was a 33% increase in the number of kids entering the system. However, the worry about spreading COVID-19 kept many families from opening their homes. 

We've seen some improvements this year as more foster families step up.  However, we still fall short, and many children need stable homes. Last year, the situation was so bad that 163 children in Virginia had to spend the night in emergency rooms, government offices, or hotels due to a lack of foster homes. 

How Many Children Are in Foster Care in the US?

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Administration for Children & Families released a report for each fiscal year. The latest data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report outlines the current state of foster care in the United States child welfare system. 

According to the AFCARS report, there is 407,493 youth in the foster care system as of September 30th of the fiscal year 2020. 

The report also states that 216,838 children entered foster care during this time, and 117,470 children and youth were waiting to be adopted, with many children staying in group homes until a family could be found that could offer a safe, permanent home for them. 

The system desperately needs foster parents willing to foster or adopt these children and teens before they age out of foster care at 18 years old. These young people are at most risk of failing if we can not find permanency or help them graduate high school. 

As of 2020, youth aged 17 or younger entered the foster care system throughout the United States at a rate of 3 per 1,000. According to that same data, here in Virginia, 2,389 kids entered the foster care system in 2020. The average age of a child in Virginia foster care is eight years old.

These children need loving parents to provide stable, loving homes. If you become a foster parent, you can make a significant difference in a child's life. 

Help Foster Care Children in Need

Now that you know how many children are in foster care in the US, you are aware of the current situation. Here in Virginia, there's a desperate need for loving parents to take these kids into their homes and help them find a better life. 

To learn more about how you can help or to inquire about fostering or adoption, send us a message to get started today. 

Fill out our web form