Child Welfare in the United States and Puerto Rico
From 2009 to 2015, Casey Family Programs will have invested $397 million in the United States and Puerto Rico to support the work of the child welfare system, courts, tribes, policymakers and other organizations to build communities of hope that safely reduce the need for foster care and support strong, lifelong families for all children.
Each year, about 3.2 million children across the country are involved in investigations of maltreatment or other issues. Among teenagers and children 18 years old and under nationwide, approximately 384,500 currently live in foster care.
Every child counts
We talk about a “foster care system,” but in fact the vast majority of children who come to the attention of child welfare officials are not placed in foster care. In the United States and Puerto Rico, the goal is to help vulnerable children grow up in safe, stable and loving families.
Children under the age of 18 living in foster care as of Sept. 30, 2013:
Keeping children safe
Safety and effective response go hand in hand. Most children enter foster care due to neglect and other reasons — not because of physical or sexual abuse. In the United States and Puerto Rico, providing targeted and effective interventions as soon as possible can safely prevent the need for foster care and better ensure that children who suffer any kind of maltreatment are not harmed again.
* “Other” includes parental substance abuse, child substance abuse, child disability, child behavior problems, parent death, parent incarceration, caretaker inability to cope, relinquishment or inadequate housing.
Everyone deserves a lifelong family
What happens to children who end up in foster care? Most are safely reunited with their own parent or extended family. A significant number are adopted. Communities across America have shown they can help more children to grow up in safe, stable families by providing appropriate and timely services after they return home.
Children exiting foster care in the United States and Puerto Rico:
* “Other” includes transferred to another agency, ran away or died.
Making smarter investments
Foster care is a response to abuse and neglect, not a solution. Yet the bulk of the $7.3 billion in dedicated federal child welfare spending can only be used by states for foster care-related services. To truly transform the child welfare system in America, we should be able to make smarter investments of federal dollars in programs that ultimately reduce the need for foster care and produce better outcomes for children.
Here is how federal funding is aligned with need in the United States and Puerto Rico: