Exploring state-level child welfare data

Child WelfareNov 12 2019

In the United States, child welfare systems are tasked with protecting and promoting the well-being of children and youth who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, maltreatment. These systems have federal oversight but operate differently in every state. Because of this state-level variation, it is critical to examine child welfare data at the state level. The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) releases state-level data every year on children in foster care and children adopted from foster care. Data from ACF’s Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System (AFCARS) are publicly available and represent the best source of information on trends in foster care and adoption across all states.

With the release of the 2017 data, Child Trends conducted a series of analyses examining trends across states. Through our blog series and corresponding data interactive, we share key findings from this work. These data can be used by state leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders to better understand their states’ foster care population and examine underlying causes of abuse and neglect.

Explore the data

State-level data for understanding child welfare in the United States

Read the blogs

In 2017, the rate of children in foster care rose in 39 states

One in three children entered foster care in 2017 because of parental drug abuse

Infants and toddlers are more likely than older children to enter foster care because of neglect and parental drug abuse

Older youth in foster care need support to make a successful transition to adulthood

The share of children in foster care living with relatives is growing

Upcoming changes to federal child welfare data could provide more comprehensive information on children in care

November 2019