April 13, 2020

Black Children Continue to Be Disproportionately Represented in Foster Care

The share of children who are black and in foster care remains much smaller than it was nearly decade ago. Even so, black children are still overrepresented among youth in foster care relative to the general child population.

In 2018, black children represented 14% of the total child population but 23% of all kids in foster care.

By comparison: White kids represent 50% of the nation’s child population and only 44% of its foster care population. Latino and Hispanic children represent 25% of kids nationwide yet just 21% of all kids in foster care. And Asian and Native Hawaiian kids make up 5% of the U.S. child population but only 1% of its foster care population. In other words, these three groups are under-represented in foster care when compared to their presence in the total child population.

From 2016 to 2018, the data on kids in foster care, broken down by race and ethnicity, has remained the same. This population has been 44% white, 23% black, 21% Hispanic or Latino, 2% American Indian and 1% Asian or Native Hawaiian for the last three years, according to Child Trends, which analyzed data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.

This statistical stasis masks, to a degree, a longer-term trend: the share of black children in care steadily declined from 30% in 2009 before stabilizing at 23% in 2016. During this same time period, the percentage of white kids in care rose from 40% to 44%.

These figures only cover children in the U.S. foster care system — that is, boys and girls ages 0 to 17. Many states extend foster care benefits to young adults, who are not included in this update.

Closer looks at the total foster care population nationally and in the states and of foster care children by age group and gender can also be found here on the KIDS COUNT Data Center.