Every child belongs in a safe and loving family. That’s why our goal for the millions of American children who are neglected, abused, or orphaned is to help their families heal, when possible, and to make foster care more loving and far less traumatic, when it is needed.
But right now, the child welfare system – the state and county government agencies charged with this responsibility – has been stretched beyond its expertise and capacity. The system places too many poor and minority children in foster care who could be kept safely at home, shuffles children between multiple foster homes and institutions, and further traumatizes them at each step.
This isn’t just devastating for individual children and their families – the failures of the child welfare system are at the root of some our nation’s biggest challenges. As many as 70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have been in the child welfare system. One-third of homeless young adults were previously in foster care. And as a result of our country’s disparate treatment of black and white families, black children are twice as likely as white children to wind up in foster care and land on its conveyer belt to other broken systems.
This system is failing.
- 1 in 8 American children is abused or neglected by age 18
- 1 in 17 kids enters foster care
- The rate of foster care placement increases to 1 in 9 for Black children and 1 in 7 for Native American children
- 70% of juvenile justice-involved youth have been in foster care
- 50% of foster youth will not graduate from high school on time
- 48% of girls in foster care become pregnant by age 19
- 60% of child trafficking victims have histories in foster care
- 33% of homeless young adults were previously in foster care
- Kids in foster care are 4x more likely than other children to attempt suicide