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New Data: Record number of adoptions and reduced number of children in foster care

The number of children achieving permanency through adoption increased for the fifth straight year to its highest level ever, and the number of children entering foster care dropped for the third year in a row after going up every year since 2014.

The newly released FY 2019 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data show the number of children in foster care dropped to its lowest level since 2015. The number of children achieving permanency through adoption increased for the fifth straight year to its highest level ever, and the number of children entering foster care dropped for the third year in a row after going up every year since 2014.

“Helping youth who are in foster care find safe, loving families to call their own is the best way we can set America’s children up for success,” said Lynn Johnson, HHS’s assistant secretary for Children and Families. “These incredible numbers show the hard work child welfare agencies, non-profit organizations, faith-based entities and families do for America’s children and youth. More than 120,000 youth are currently awaiting adoption, and we remain committed to supporting and partnering with local, state and federal agencies to help youth explore permanency options.”

Background

The Children’s Bureau at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) AFCARS data show the number of children in foster care decreased by more than 10,000, from 435,000 at the end of FY 2018 to 424,000 at the end of FY 2019. The number of children entering care in FY 2019 dropped to 251,000 from the 263,000 of the previous year.

Adoptions with U.S. child welfare involvement increased slightly to more than 66,000 in FY 2019 compared to the 63,000 finalized adoptions in FY 2018. This is the largest number of adoptions reported since AFCARS data collection began in FY 1995.

The number of children awaiting adoption decreased slightly to 122,200 in FY 2019 compared to 125,300 in FY 2018. The number of children waiting to be adopted for whom parental rights were terminated remained relatively flat at 71,300 at the end of FY 2019, compared to 71,500 in FY 2018.

Nearly each of the 15 categories states use to report the circumstances associated with a child’s removal from home and placement into care remained stable. Children placed into foster care due to drug abuse by a parent dropped from 36 percent to 34 percent between FY 2018 and 2019. Approximately 86,700 of the 251,000 children in foster care were removed from their homes in 2019 because drug abuse was a concern for at least one parent.

“These incredible numbers show the hard work child welfare agencies, non-profit organizations, faith-based entities and families do for America’s children and youth. More than 120,000 youth are currently awaiting adoption, and we remain committed to supporting and partnering with local, state and federal agencies to help youth explore permanency options.”— Lynn Johnson, Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families

The FY 2019 AFCARS report can be found here.

Quick Facts

  • The Children’s Bureau at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) AFCARS data show the number of children in foster care decreased by more than 10,000, from 435,000 at the end of FY 2018 to 424,000 at the end of FY 2019.
  • The number of children entering care in FY 2019 dropped to 251,000 from the 263,000 of the previous year.
  • Adoptions with U.S. child welfare involvement increased slightly to more than 66,000 in FY 2019 compared to the 63,000 finalized adoptions in FY 2018.
  • The number of children awaiting adoption decreased slightly to 122,200 in FY 2019 compared to 125,300 in FY 2018.
  • Children placed into foster care due to drug abuse by a parent dropped from 36 percent to 34 percent between FY 2018 and 2019.
  • Approximately 86,700 of the 251,000 children in foster care were removed from their homes in 2019 because drug abuse was a concern for at least one parent.
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