Over the past 11 years, the total number of children in foster care has declined markedly, as has the number of children entering the system (either for the first time or re-entering). From 2002 to 2013, the number of children in foster care on September 30th declined from an estimated 524,000 to approximately 402,000, a decrease of 23 percent. The number of children entering care for the first time decreased by 11 percent (from 233,039 to 206,479), and the number of children who re-entered care decreased by 20 percent (from 60,397 to 48,314). Additionally, over 200,000 children have exited care every year (with 239,000 exiting in 2013) since 2002. The combination of large numbers of children exiting and fewer numbers entering have enabled states to better shift resources to efforts that will ensure that those who do enter are reunified or discharged to a permanent placement within a reasonable timeframe.
Figure 1. Number of Children in Care on the Last Day of the Federal Fiscal Year and Numbers Entering Care,
FY 2002-FY 2013