NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Feds Initiate New Report on Child Welfare

August 18, 2000

The Department of Health and Human Services has released a new report, "Child Welfare Outcomes 1998," which contains information on the status of child welfare systems in a majority of the states. Only states with the most comprehensive data for 1997 or 1998 are included.

Experts say that for many years collecting data on children in the states' foster care systems has largely been based on guesswork. But the reports, which are to be issued annually, may begin to shed some light on how well or how poorly states are conducting their child-welfare programs.

Here are some highlights:

  • Thirty states reported a total of 306,940 children in foster care in 1998 -- with 91,745 waiting to be adopted.
  • The larger figure included 130,696 children who left the foster care system that year -- 66 percent of whom were reunited with their parents and 14 percent who were adopted.
  • Of those waiting to be adopted, 37 percent were age five or younger, 37 percent were ages six through 10, 23 percent were ages 11 to 15 -- and the remainder were older teens.
  • Of the 23,523 children who were adopted, 43 percent were age five and younger, 36 percent were ages six through 10, 16 percent were ages 11 through 15 -- and the rest were older teens.

Some 49 percent of adoptions took 48 months or longer to complete, and another 19 percent of adoptions took three years or longer.

In addition, 27 states reported 485,870 child maltreatment victims and 742 child fatalities. Twenty-nine states reported 43,845 children whose parents' rights had been terminated.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "New Report Finds 300,000 in Foster Care in 30 States," Washington Times, August 18, 2000.


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