March 13, 2024

Navigating Foster Care

A Must-Read for Prospective Foster Parents

As a prospective foster parent in the United States, understanding the foster care system is crucial. This overview provides essential statistics and facts for you to learn more about this system designed to help you help children in need of love and stability.

As of 2023, there are approximately 400,000 children in foster care across the country. The average age is 8.5 years old with roughly an equal number of boys (51%) and girls (49%). About 115,000 of these kids are waiting to be adopted.

Six percent of the children in the United States will find themselves in foster care before they are 18 years old. Every 2 minutes another child enters foster care.

Children in foster care come from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

  • 43% Caucasian
  • 22% Hispanic
  • 22% Black/African American

Nightlight Christian Adoptions is recruiting families who will step up and support children in need of a safe home, providing guidance and love.

The primary reasons for children entering foster care include:

Abuse: children are removed from their homes due to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.

Neglect: children are removed due to neglect, which includes a lack of basic needs such as food, shelter, and supervision.

Parental Substance Abuse: children are removed from their homes due to parental substance abuse.

Death/Abandonment: children may need foster care if no suitable family member or close friend can parent.

What does it mean for a foster child to have “special needs”?

  • Being an older child
  • Having a particular racial or ethnic background
  • Being part of a sibling group needing to be placed together as one unit
  • Medical conditions
  • Physical, mental, or emotional disabilities

There are many government support programs in place to help foster children and their foster families.

A child with special needs should not be confused with a child who requires special education.

Length of Stay in Foster Care

The average length of time a child spends in foster care is 20 months. Unfortunately, over 25,600 kids spend more than 5 years in the system. Factors such as age, placement type, and availability of adoptive families can impact the length of stay.

Annually, approximately 20,000 young adults, ages 18-21, will age out of the foster care system. Without the love and stability of their biological family or their foster family, these children have an increased risk of experiencing unemployment and homelessness.

Consider becoming a foster care family

Nightlight Christian Adoptions is consistently looking for adults willing to provide stability and love to children in the foster care system. Without families like yours, children feel the negative impacts of the system. Their well-being continues to diminish as they wait for a foster family who is prepared and supported by a reputable agency.

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