American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) Children Are Overrepresented in Foster Care in States With the Largest Proportions of AIAN Children

Publication Date:

November 8, 2022

Topic:

Racial Equity

In the 10 states with the largest proportions of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) children,[1] AIAN children are overrepresented in foster care in nearly every state when comparing their percentages in the foster care and total child populations (see figure below). Of these 10 states, the percentage of AIAN children in foster care was highest in South Dakota, Alaska, and North Dakota; and lowest in Arizona, Oregon, and Nebraska. These findings are derived from federal fiscal year 2020 data, the most recent year available.


AIAN children are disproportionately represented in foster care in the top 5 states with the largest proportions of AIAN children

Percentages of AIAN children among the foster care and child populations, for the 10 states with largest proportion of AIAN children

AIAN children are disproportionately represented in foster care in the top 5 states with the largest proportions of AIAN children

Source: Williams, S.C. (2022). State-level data for understanding child welfare in the United States. Child Trends. https://www.childtrends.org/publications/state-level-data-for-understanding-child-welfare-in-the-united-states


Foster care placement occurs when a child protective services worker and a court determine that it is not safe for a child to remain at home. Children in foster care need strong support systems because removal from the home can be traumatic: Their routines are disrupted, and they become separated from familiar people and places. AIAN children placed in foster care may also be separated from their Indigenous communities and cultures, which provide access to preventive and protective values and practices.