6 Important Facts About Foster Care Everyone Should See
Home isn’t just a roof and four walls. It’s more than that—home is a place of love, acceptance, and family.
If you grew up in a nurturing environment with caring parents, you’re lucky. Unfortunately, there are thousands of children who don’t get to know what that feels like.
In cases of neglect, abuse, or abandonment, that’s where foster care comes in. Foster parents give those children what they rightfully deserve—a place to feel safe and secure until they can be reunited with their families. A place to feel free from neglect, trauma, and abuse.
Let’s get started.
- First, What Is Foster Care?
Children in foster care can’t remain in their homes due to some form of neglect, abuse, or mistreatment. Each state has a foster program that allows for a safe, temporary living situation for children from birth until 21 years old. These living situations include homes of relatives (kinship care) or approved foster homes.
According to the National Council for Adoption (NCFA), the average child in foster care is around 9 years old. However, there are many situations where teenagers or younger children are in care.
Although most children return to their primary caretakers after foster care, many age out of the system with little to no familial ties.
- How Many Children (Birth-21 Years) Are in Foster Care?
On any given day in the United States, there are about 443,000 children in foster care. In the year 2017, more than 690,000 spent time in U.S. foster care programs. These numbers are all up from previous years.
Unfortunately, often there are not enough foster families to provide homes for these children. This is despite the state’s valiant efforts to find safe homes for these children.
These numbers should encourage anyone interested in foster care to take action or do further research. No matter how many other foster families there are, we could always use more.
- Average Amount of Time Kids Spend in Foster Care
Nationwide, most children stay in foster care for an average of two years. However, six percent of children have had to remain in foster care for five years or more.
Some never get reunited with their families at all. In 2017, more than 17,000 young adults aged out of foster care. This leads to more sad statistics.
Those who leave care without the support of a family have a higher likelihood than the general population of becoming incarcerated or experiencing homelessness and unemployment.
This is another reason why we desperately need more foster families.
- Who Do the Children Stay With?
Around one-third of the national population of children in foster care stayed with a relative.
In child welfare programs, many try to place children with a relative over a non-relative. Studies show that this reduces some of the trauma that comes from being taken from their homes. The number of children living with a relative has grown 16% since 2007.
54% of those with relatives only experienced one placement, compared to 38% of those staying with non-relatives. Of course, that’s not always the best option, or possible at all, depending on the relative and their ability to foster or provide safety for the child.
Currently, 45% are in non-relative foster family homes. When you understand that almost half of children in foster care are with non-relatives, it proves that everyone that’s willing and able to foster should come forward. Non-relatives can still provide a great place of stability and care for children in need.
- Number of People Fostering Today
At the end of the day, there are not enough foster parents in America. It’s hard to find an exact number chronicling how many foster families there are in the United States because each state has different reporting mechanisms.
Simply put, we need more. Which brings us to our last point.
- How to Become a Foster Parent
- Single parents must be 25 years old and up, and at least 10 years older than the child
- If married, the couple must be 10 years older than the child
- Must pass criminal record checks
- Must provide references
- Must pass a home safety check
- Must pass a drug screening
- Must complete a 2-hour information session
- Must complete a 24-hour pre-service training
- Must complete a home evaluation
The amount of time it takes to become a foster parent varies, but it typically takes between 3 and 6 months. This can be longer based on a variety of factors.
Let These Facts About Foster Care Inspire You
Being a foster parent is a wonderful gift for you and the children. Thousands of kids in Georgia alone need a loving home—and you can provide that. With a stable home, you can help children through important milestones that allow them to reach their full potentials.
We hope these facts about foster care show you what a difference you can make in someone’s life today. And before you go, we’ll share a couple more facts about Wellroot specifically.
With our program, 75% of children are reunited with families within 12 months, and 66% have child permanency in one year, as well.
If you want to be a part of those astounding statistics, contact us today.