November 1, 2019

More Kids Continue to Be Adopted From Foster Care

A growing number of children in foster care are being adopted, according to the latest analysis of adoption and foster care data conducted by Child Trends for the KIDS COUNT Data Center.

Twenty-four percent of children exiting foster care did so through adoption in 2017, the most recent year of data available from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). This marked the fourth straight year that the share of children in foster care who were adopted increased.

Historically, the most common outcome for children leaving child welfare systems involves reuniting with their parents. Although the rate of children being reunited with parents remains high, 49% in 2017, there has been a slight but consistent drop since 2015. This is a trend that should be monitored.

A decrease in the percentage of children “aging out” of the system and an increase in the percentage of adults taking guardianship of children in foster care indicate that agencies more often found families for foster kids.

In fact, the percentage of children leaving foster care due to adoption rose in 30 states between 2016 and 2017. Idaho, Illinois, South Dakota, Vermont and Virginia saw large increases in the percentage of foster kids who were adopted. Fourteen states saw a decrease, as did Puerto Rico.

The Child Trends analysis does not account for cases in which a young person left foster care for unknown reasons.