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

Publication Date:

Feb 26, 2019

High-quality data can provide public officials and advocates with crucial details about the populations they serve. State-level data for understanding child welfare in the United States is a comprehensive resource, including easy-to-use interactive features, that provides state and national data on child maltreatment, foster care, kinship caregiving, and adoption. This resource compiles critical data from a variety of sources on children, youth, and families who came in contact with the child welfare system in federal fiscal year (FY) 2017.

These data are important because they help policymakers understand how many children and youth came in contact with the child welfare system, and why. States can also use this information to ensure their child welfare systems support the safety, stability, and well-being of all families in their state.

Select a state

Select a profile

Download selected state profile »

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

Foster Care

Federal Fiscal Year 2017

decoarative-border

Children are placed in foster care when a child protective services worker and court have determined it is not safe for them to remain home. Many children are traumatized by displacement from their family and disruption of their usual routine and familiar surroundings. Children in foster care need strong relationships with caring adults, a network of social support, and services to cope with the challenging circumstances of home removal.

Source, unless specified otherwise: This information is from the federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and represents the federal fiscal year 2017 reporting period (October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2017). Unless otherwise noted, for each calculation, children who were missing data on the relevant indicator were excluded from analyses.

Notes:

1 Number of children of all ages currently in foster care on September 30, 2017.

2 Foster care rate is based on data from the U. S. Census Bureau from 2017 and is publicly available at the Kids Count Data Center.

3 Number of children whose date of most recent removal was during the 2017 federal fiscal year.

4 Length of stay in care is calculated based on the current removal episode.

5 Does not include children over age 20.

6 If a child is determined to be of Hispanic origin, they are only counted as Hispanic and are not included in any other racial/ethnic categories. Data for the general child population under age 18 in 2017 is from the U. S. Census Bureau and is publicly available from the Kids Count Data Center.

7 For children entering care in FY 2017. “Other” includes drug or alcohol abuse by the child, child’s disability, relinquishment, and parental death.

8 APPLA stands for Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement.

9 The number of places the child has lived, including the current setting (except for trial home visits), during the current removal episode.

10 Other placement types include pre-adoptive home, runaway, supervised independent living, and trial home visit.

11 Emancipation means the child/youth legally reached majority (i.e., is considered an adult) due to age, marriage, etc.

12 Includes children ages 9 and older with a case goal of long-term foster care or emancipation.

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

Kinship Caregiving

Federal Fiscal Year 2017

decoarative-border

Relatives and other kin are invaluable sources of support and connection for children. Kinship caregiving exists for children both inside and outside of the child welfare system. Relatives may offer to care for a child to keep them out of foster care, or may serve as a placement for a child currently in the child welfare system—either as a kinship or formal foster care placement. Relatives who care for children in foster care may have the option to enter into guardianships, which are formal legal relationships that allow the child welfare case to close while allowing the birth parents to retain parental rights. In some states, such guardians receive a subsidy for the care of the child.

Source, unless specified otherwise: This information is from the federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and represents the federal fiscal year 2017 reporting period (October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2016). Unless otherwise noted, for each calculation, children who were missing data on the relevant indicator were excluded from analyses.

1 Includes children of all ages currently in foster care on September 30, 2017.

2 For all relevant measures, length of stay in care is calculated based on the current removal episode.

3 Data for households with grandparent living with a grandchild during 2017 is publicly available on the American Fact Finder website from the Census Bureau.

4 Includes relatives and stepparents. Children who were over age 21 were excluded from analyses.

5 Hispanic children are not included in counts for specific racial groups. Data for the general child population under age 18 for 2017 is from the U. S. Census Bureau and is publicly available at the Kids Count Data Center.

6 In AFCARS, a case plan goal of guardianship with a relative is labeled as “living with relative.” While adoption creates a permanent legal relationship between a child and their adoptive family, replacing the birth parents’ relationship, guardianship creates a formal legal relationship between a child and their guardian(s) and allows birth parents to retain parental rights.

7 Guardianship can include non-relative guardians.

8 Hispanic children are not included in counts for specific racial groups. Children whose race was reported as unknown are not included.

9 Information as of December 2018, available at http://grandfamilies.org/Topics/Subsidized-Guardianship/Subsidized-Guardianship-Summary-Analysis

10 State expenditures on KinGAP programs is from Child Welfare Financing SFY 2016: A survey of federal, state, and local expenditures, which is publicly available on the Child Trends website (https://www.childtrends.org/research/research-by-topic/child-welfare-financing-survey-sfy-2016). Each state reported data based on their state fiscal year (SFY) 2016, which for most states is July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. AL, DC, MI, NY, TX, and WY reported a different SFY calendar.

11 It is possible for states to have had a KinGAP program as of December 2018 and not have reported any KinGAP expenditures in SFY 2016, or vice versa. This could be due to a variety of state-specific reasons.

12 Based on HHS Title IV-E claims data from FFY 2016.

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

Adoption From Foster Care

Federal Fiscal Year 2017

decoarative-border

Adoption creates a permanent legal relationship between a child and their adoptive family. Children adopted from foster care were originally removed from their birth families because child protective services and a court determined it was not safe for them to return home and that adoption would be in their best interest. Not every child in foster care has a goal of adoption; most will reunify with their birth families or live with relatives as their guardians. However, for children for whom reunification is not possible, adoption is a critically important path to a safe, permanent family.

Source, unless noted otherwise: This information is from the federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) and represents the federal fiscal year 2017 reporting period (October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2017). Unless otherwise noted, for each calculation, children who were missing data on the relevant indicator were excluded from analyses.

Notes:

1 Length of stay in care is calculated based on the current removal episode.

2 Based on child’s age on date of adoption.

3 Children are included in this count if they are in foster care at the end of the fiscal year, under age 18, and their parents have either lost parental rights or their case goal is adoption. Children ages 16 and 17 with the case goal of emancipation are not included.

4 Based on child’s age at end of fiscal year.

5 Does not include children over age 20 or children missing birthdate data; children waiting to be adopted from foster care are age 17 or younger.

6 If a child is determined to be of Hispanic origin, they are only counted as Hispanic and are not included in any other racial/ethnic categories. Data for the general child population under age 18 in 2017 is from the U. S. Census Bureau and is publicly available from the Kids Count Data Center.

7 An adoption is considered transracial if the child has two adoptive parents and is not the same race as either parent, or if the child has one adoptive parent and is not the same race as that parent.

8 In cases where more than one type of adoptive family was selected, stepparent receives priority followed by relative, foster parent, and nonrelative.

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

Child Maltreatment

Federal Fiscal Year 2017

decoarative-border

Child neglect and abuse—also known as maltreatment—is a grave concern; it is associated with many negative outcomes, including physical injuries, psychological problems, and (in extreme cases) death. After receiving referrals, child protective services agencies investigate to determine whether children are at risk of maltreatment, if maltreatment occurred, and if services are needed. Children and families may receive a variety of services, including foster care, family preservation, mental health supports, and substance abuse treatment.

Source, unless specified otherwise: This information is from the federal National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) and represents the federal fiscal year 2017 reporting period (October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2017). Data are publicly available in Child Maltreatment 2017, available from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2017.

Notes:

1 Referrals can include more than one child. Fields with “NR” signify that the data was not reported or available in the 2017 Child Maltreatment Report. See Appendix D of the report for more detailed information by state.

2 This reflects “children (unique count) who received a CPS response in the form of an investigation or alternative response” (i.e., a child who had at least one maltreatment report investigated/assessed was counted once, regardless of how many investigations/assessments they had).

3 Unless noted otherwise, data on victims represent “unique victims” (i.e., a child is counted once regardless of how many times s/he was determined to be a victim of maltreatment). “First-time victims” are those with no previous findings of maltreatment.

4 If a child is determined to be of Hispanic origin, they are only counted as Hispanic and are not included in any other racial/ethnic categories. Data for the general child population under age 18 is from the U. S. Census Bureau and is publicly available from the Kids Count Data Center.

5 Percentages for those unknown, unborn, or 18-21 years old are not presented here as they represent a very small percentage of the overall total.

6 Total may exceed 100 percent. Children who experienced more than one type of maltreatment were counted in each applicable category. The “neglect” category includes fetal alcohol syndrome, prenatal substance abuse exposure, abandonment, and educational neglect. The “other maltreatment” category also includes unknown.

7 Perpetrators and relationships are only counted once regardless of the number of times the perpetrator was reported.

8 Child daycare provider, foster parent, friends or neighbors, legal guardian, other, other professional, other relative, group home and residential facility staff, unmarried partner of parent, multiple relationships, or unknown.

9 The numbers of victims and non-victims are duplicate counts; a child is counted each time that a CPS response is completed and services are provided. NCANDS collects data for 26 types of services, including but not limited to adoption, foster care, family preservation, mental health, and substance abuse.

10 Foster care services are defined as activities associated with 24-hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardians and for whom the State Title IV-B/IV-E agency has responsibility for placement, care, or supervision. Only children who were removed from their home after the report date are counted.

Child Welfare Fact Sheets for FFY 2015 and 2014

FFY 2015 (zip file)
FFY 2014 (zip file)