Race and Foster Care

When you look closely at foster care statistics, you’ll notice some disheartening data about foster care and race.

There are significant racial disparities in the United States foster care system. Diving into these statistics can help us understand how we can better support foster care children and improve our communities.

Number of children in foster care in the U.S. by race

Below you’ll see the number of children in the United States foster care system by their race / ethnicity. These statistics are from 2021 and were obtained from statista.com.

This data sheds light on the disproportionality in race and foster care.

adopted child and mother

Racial disproportionality in foster care

Racial disproportionality is when a certain racial or ethnic group is overrepresented or underrepresented compared with the percentage of its total population.

For example, if black children represent 14% of all children in America, you would expect about 14% of foster care children to be black.

Anything significantly higher or lower than that percentage (14%) is a disproportionality.

Black children are overrepresented in foster care

Black children are overrepresented in foster care.

According to datacenter.kidscount.org, Black children represented 14% of the total child population in the United States. However, they represented 23% of all children in foster care.

Let’s compare this with foster care numbers for other races / ethnicities:

Compared to other races, there’s a disproportionately large number of black children who are entering and remaining in foster care.

A couple holding their adopted child

Reasons for racial disproportionality in foster care

What causes racial disproportionality in foster care?

There are several factors that may explain why racial disproportionality exists:

It’s important to remember there’s no one cause for the racial disproportionality in foster care. The problem is caused by a wide range of interconnected economic and social issues.

While policy change is needed, support programs for foster children and foster families can also make a significant impact.

Penny Lane Support

Penny Lane supports foster children and foster families.

Want to make a difference? Donate to Penny Lane to help us improve the lives of foster children and reduce the disproportionality in foster care and race. You can also support our mission through volunteering or mentorship.