10 Surprising Foster Care Facts You Should Know

May is national foster care month

May is National Foster Care Month,

an important opportunity to acknowledge the nearly 400,000 children and youth in care—as well as the foster parents, professionals, mentors, and policymakers who work hard every day to improve a unique and challenging system.

Our Ministry Partner The Forgotten Initiative says

“We believe that when the Body of Christ hears about foster care and learns about needs and ways they can get involved, they are willing to step into this space. The more we know, the better equipped we are to serve and care for those around us.”

So here are 10 surprising foster care facts you should know:

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

In short, while there was an increase of children entering care, there was a decrease in adults opening their homes.

So what does foster care specifically look like in your county? Foster care ministry More Than Enough invites you to explore the data where you live.

2. 3% of practicing Christians in the U.S. are foster parents, and 31% have seriously considered fostering.

Whether you’re just starting to think about fostering, are currently in the home study process, are setting up your home, or are in the wait—here are some great TFI blog posts to encourage you on this journey.

3. Over half of children in care spend over 18 months in the system.

You can take meaningful action to get involved at CarePortal, the platform that’s connecting the largest network of caring people to meet the needs of kids and families in crisis.

4. 43% of foster care youth experience at least one placement change during the first year in care.

On average, a child entering care will likely live in more than four homes during the first year of care. This is a sobering reminder of the instability many children and youth face while part of the system.

5. California is currently the state with the most kids in care. 

Here are the top 5 states with the most kids and youth in foster care:

  1. California – 46,214
  2. Florida – 21,808
  3. Texas – 21,691
  4. Illinois – 20,815
  5. Ohio – 15,032

6. 6% of children are placed in care at least once between birth and age 18.

Every 2 minutes in the U.S., another child enters foster care.

7. About 15% of children in foster care live with a non-relative foster family.

Research shows that living with relatives while in care benefits children in several ways, including minimized trauma, increased permanency, improved mental health outcomes, and preserved cultural and community identity.

Tori Hope Petersen grew up in the foster care system with various non-relatives. More than anything, she wanted to be seen, known, and loved exactly as she was.

“In the end, the father I’d always wanted turned out to be the Father Who was always there, the Father who revealed Himself to me in His own perfect timing.”

Tori Hope Petersen is the author of Fostered: One Woman’s Powerful Story of Finding Faith and Family through Foster Care (August 2022).

8. The average length of stay for children in care is approximately 20 months.

Annual data from the federal government reveals only 49% of foster children are reunited with their families. As a country, we have work to do to help more families pursue reunification.

Our God is a God of restoration. So Lifeline has created a family restoration and preservation ministry for parents seeking permanency with their children.

Watch the video:

9. 56% of foster children graduate from high school.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, children and youth in foster care are at high-risk of dropping out of school and are unlikely to attend or graduate from college.

This is an opportunity for all of us to do better for these kids.

10. Approximately 20,000 youth age out of the U.S. foster care system without being adopted each year.

God created human beings to thrive best in families, but many youth leaving foster care today will become instantly homeless upon aging out.

We have work to do … as a country, and—even more importantly—as the Church. As foster parent Jamie Goodwin wrote in Christianity Today

“Foster care can be an exposure to what is beautiful and broken in the world. Also, unlike international ministries, it’s geographically proximate, or part of our own neighborhoods and cities. Thus it can expose conditions of our own hearts and minds in ways that tidier ministries do not.”

The more we know, the better we can do.

Reach Children in Your Community.