Foster Care
 
Estimated Number of Printed Pages: 2
 
TOPICS COVERED: In this page, we've provided a brief primer of facts relating to foster care. In the United States, there are really two different meanings of "foster care." In one sense, it is used to describe a formal system – run by each state's government – that places children with temporary guardians because their parents are either unavailable or incapable of caring for their children on their own. On the other hand, "foster care" can also describe any child who is being raised by someone other than his parents, on a formal or informal basis. Therefore, we've included information that relates to both understandings of the term. To avoid confusion, if the term appears in capitalized italics (e.g., Foster Care, Foster Children), we're using that to refer to the governmental programs; when it is in regular type, it refers to the informal use of the term.
 
MEMOS ON RELATED INFORMATION: Adoption and Children (General Demographics)
 
Links to Sources for this material are available below. Please also see The Factbook Sources page for further information regarding Factbook sources and their availability.
 
 

PAGE INDEX:

 

FOSTER CHILDREN

 
 
Black children are just 15 percent of all children in the United States; however, they are approximately 35 percent of the nation's population of foster children. 1.
 
 
 
31 months
The average number of months that a child is in Foster Care. 2.
 
 
 
523,000
Number of children in Foster Care in September 30, 2003. 3.
 
 
 
50,000
Number of Foster Children who were adopted in 2003. Of these, 23 percent (9,540) were adopted by relatives. 4.
 
 
 
29%
of children in Foster Care live with relatives. 5.
 
 
 
Foster Children in the U.S. are nearly twice as likely to live in an unmarried-partner household (9 percent) as children who are the sons or daughters of the householder (5 percent). 6.
 
 
 
"Child-shifting"
Known as "child-shifting," it is fairly common for families to send children to live – temporarily or even permanently – with neighbors or relatives. Reasons for child-shifting vary, but usually arise out of the mother's belief that the foster parent will be able to provide a better home for the child. An estimated 15 to 30 percent of Caribbean children will grow up in a household without their parents. 7.
 
 
 
In sub-Saharan Africa, families in rural areas send their children to be raised by their urban relatives, in order to provide the children access to a better education. At the same time, better educated urban workers could send money to their rural family. This also meant that the rural families could also more easily provide for the children that remained with them. While these ties have been thought of as being a bond between the families, more recent research has shown that it has – over time – weakened the rural families' welfare and the strength of the inter-family relationships. 8.
 
__________________________________________________________________
 
1. Jason Fields, Children and their Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2002, Current Population Reports P20-547, US Census Bureau, Washington, DC (2003), p. 7. Archived at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20-547.pdf
2. ________, "Preliminary FY 2003 Estimates as of April 2005 (10)," The AFCARS Report. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau (4/2005), p. 4. Accessed at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars/report10.pdf on 8/16/2005.
3. ________, "Preliminary FY 2003 Estimates as of April 2005 (10)," The AFCARS Report. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau (4/2005), p. 4. Accessed at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars/report10.pdf on 8/16/2005.
4. ________, "Preliminary FY 2003 Estimates as of April 2005 (10)," The AFCARS Report. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children's Bureau (4/2005), p. 5. Accessed at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/publications/afcars/report10.pdf on 8/16/2005.
5. Jason Fields, Children and their Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2002, Current Population Reports P20-547, US Census Bureau, Washington, DC (2003), p. 3 (internal citation omitted). Archived at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20-547.pdf
6. Jason Fields, Children and their Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2002, Current Population Reports P20-547, US Census Bureau, Washington, DC (2003), p. 9. Archived at: http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/p20-547.pdf
7. Winston Seegobin, "Caribbean Families," International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family, Second Ed. Ponzetti, James J. (ed.), Macmillian Reference USA (2002), p. 209. Available through: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0028656725/qid=1123776640/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/104-0887680-4192712?v=glance&s=books&n=507846 or http://www.galegroup.com/servlet/ItemDetailServlet?region=9&imprint=000&titleCode=M106&type=4&id=174024
8. Betty Bigombe and Gilbert M. Khadiagala, "Major Trends Affecting Families in Sub-Saharan Africa," Major Trends Affecting Families: A Background Document, Report for United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Social Policy and Development, Program on the Family (2003), p. 9 (footnote omitted). Archived at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/family/Publications/mtbigombe.pdf