May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. We adopted our oldest son through foster care, so it's something that's near and dear to my heart. I do a literal happy dance when someone tells me they're going to adopt through foster care. These kids need homes and love!
According to the childwelfare.org, the latest data I can find is for 2011, there were over 400,500 children in foster care throughout the US, almost half of which were in non-relative foster homes. And for about half of those kids, the goal is to get them back with their family.
Sadly, 6% of them - that's over 24,000 children - are in group homes. In Upstate SC, where we live, there are several children's homes that are at capacity. It breaks my heart and we regularly make donations to some local homes to help out.
In the 2011 fiscal year over 250,000 children left foster care (yay!). Just over half (52%) went back to their parents. 20% were adopted (that's 50,000 kids), and 14% went to live with another relative or guardian.
With the kids who left foster care, 46% spent under a year in care. I'm fairly impressed with that number. I mean, ideally no kids would have to go into care, but I'm glad that it's less than a year for almost half of them. Sadly, 16% will spend more than 3 years in care.
I bet you're wondering how old these kids are. The median age for a child in foster care is 8.8 years old. That's because many of them don't get into care until they've entered elementary school. The average age of entry is about 6.5.
This is scary. My daughter is 6.5. I can not imagine her being ripped from her family, no matter how dysfunctional, and being thrown into a family dynamic she had no clue about. Can you imagine your kids doing that?
So what will become of these kids?
Of the estimated 400,540 children in foster care on September 30, 2011:
- 52 percent had a goal of reunification with parent(s) or
- principal caretaker(s).
- 25 percent had a goal of adoption.
- 6 percent had a goal of long-term foster care.
- 5 percent had a goal of emancipation.
- 3 percent had a goal of living with other relative(s).
- 4 percent had a goal of guardianship.
- 5 percent had not yet had a case plan goal established.
So you can see the facts are...sad. Really sad. So many children. Over 100,000 waiting to be adopted in 2011. Did you know if all the adults in the three counties around me adopted one child, no more children would be waiting for parents in the US. And those are just the ones ready to be adopted.
But if you paid attention - 100,000 kids waiting. Only 50,000 were adopted. So 50,000 more kids were left waiting for a forever family.
If adopting, fostering, or even doing respite care is an idea in your head, look into it. Why not? Gather information. I promise it's worth it!