Foster Care 101

Briefs written by Youth with Lived Foster Care Experience. Click on pictures to read and download briefs.

The History of the Child Welfare System
  • In the 1800s Children’s Aid Society created “orphan trains” transporting children to farms while indigenous children were sent to boarding schools
  • 1912 saw the creation of Children’s Bureau, devoted to the welfare of children
  • 1997 and 1999 saw the creation of Safe Families and Foster Care Independence acts, both with goals to decrease children in foster care and to improve outcomes for youth aging out of care. Their goals have yet to be met.
What is the Child Welfare System
  • Key pointDefined by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services as a group of services designed to promote the well-being of children by ensuring safety, achieving permanency, and strengthening families.
  • The primary responsibility for child welfare services rests with the States and the Federal Government supports States through program funding and legislative initiatives.
What are the Goals of Child Welfare
  • The primary goals of the Child Welfare System are to provide safety for children from abuse and neglect by parents or primary caregivers, and to achieve permanency for the children who are removed.
  • Child welfare agencies use a variety of strategies to achieve permanency by either reunifying within their families of origin or placing them with other permanent families.
How the Child Welfare System is Funded
  • $5.81 Billion of tax-payer funds are used by the Child Welfare System annually
  • Largest Federal source of funding is title IV-E of the Social Security Act which supports foster care, adoption assistance, guardianship assistance programs, and independent living programs
  • As an entitlement, Title IV-E foster care funding is determined by the level of need and number of claims filed by States for reimbursement
What are the Outcomes for the Child Welfare System
  • Despite a 5% reduction in foster care cases over the last 5 years, Child Welfare’s goal of permanency has worsened
  • Time in foster care results in poorer outcome for children
  • By 17-19, while still in foster care, youth face homelessness, education loss, unemployment, incarceration, and grim futures
  • Nearly 25,000 young people are annually aging out of foster care
  • Withing 4 years of aging out 50% will be unemployed, 50% will have experiences homelessness and only 8% will have achieved a college degree