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30th August
written by Andre Wade

An estimated 400,540 children and youth were in foster care on September 30, 2011, according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) preliminary report released July, 2012. AFCARS is a child welfare federal reporting system that collects case-level information on all children in foster care for whom state agencies are responsible for placement, care or supervision.

By and large, the number of children and youth in foster care has decreased over the years, as has the amount of time they spend in the system. However, challenges remain for older youth emancipating from foster care, who may not receive the proper tools and opportunities to succeed through the case planning process. Homelessness is a particular horrific outcome for youth who don’t receive strategic and thoughtful case planning.

Selected AFCARS Data                                   (FC = Foster Care)

Fiscal   Year  (Total # of Children & Youth   in FC)

# of Youth   Ages 12-20 in FC

# of Youth   in Supervised Independent Living

# of Youth   w/ Case Goal of  Long Term FC

# of Youth   w/ Case Goal of Emancipation

# of   Children & Youth in FC over 2 Years*

# of Youth   Who Exited FC  at the age of 17 and   Older


























*Youth who exited foster care

An estimated 20-25 percent of the 26,286 youth who exited foster care in FY2011 will experience at least one night of homelessness. For a youth exiting foster care, the initial homeless episode usually doesn’t occur immediately after leaving foster care, but in the months or even years that follow. Through better case planning, increased housing options, and employment opportunities, youth emancipating from foster care can avoid any episode of homelessness.


AFCARS is a child welfare federal reporting system that collects case level information on all children in foster care for whom State agencies are responsible for placement, care or supervision. Some of the information reported in AFCARS includes demographic information on the child, the number of removals from a placement a child has experienced, the number of placements in the current removal episode, as well as the current type of placement such as foster family or adoptive placement. Moreover, AFCARS captures information about children and youth exiting foster care such as their age, race, length of time in care, and reason for their discharge.


  1. THG

    I certainly am glad to see such a decline.
    I hope they are upping services to those that are aging out of the system.

    I aged out in late 2005 and was actually dropped off at a homeless shelter by my foster care agency.
    My little brother who aged out in 2008 had the same experience.

  2. Andre Wade

    Hi THG – The Fostering Connections Act is one of the latest pieces of legislation that targets older youth aging out of foster care. The goal is to do better case planning with these young people, so that they are better equipped to transition into adulthood.

    It’s really unfortunate that you and your brother had the experiences you had after aging out of foster care. I sincerely, hope that you two were both able to bounce back from the experience of going to a homeless shelter after aging out and are doing well today in 2012!

    Thank you for your comment. We love to hear from folks like yourself.