On any given day, nearly 428,000 children are in the U.S. foster care system. Through no fault of their own, many of these children have experienced abuse, neglect or other family challenges and have been removed from their homes by the courts for their safety. Relatives, non-related kin and foster families provide care and support for these children while they are in out-of-home care.
Foster care is a safe place that gives a child and his or her birth family an opportunity to resolve conflicts or disruptions and learn healthy skills so the child can safely return home. Many birth families need help in learning effective parenting skills, overcoming substance use or learning healthy ways to cope from trauma they themselves have experienced.
More than half of children who enter foster care are safely reunited with their birth families. If a child cannot be safely reunited with his or her birth family, the goal becomes to find a permanent home for the child through adoption, relative placement, custodianship (guardianship) or, for older youth, independent living.