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KWIC Indicator Narrative

Foster Care - Children and Youth Admitted to Foster Care

Data Provider: NYS Office of Children and Family Services


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Children admitted to foster care are those children under age 22 years who enter placement outside their home as the result of a court order in a given calendar year. Responsibility for the care and custody of these children is transferred, by court order, from the child's parents to the Commissioner of the local Department of Social Services. Children and youth admitted to foster care provides the number of children admitted to foster care during a given calendar year and the rate per 1,000 children 0 through 21 years in the general population.

Children and youth admitted to foster care by placement type, age groups and race/ethnicity presents the number of children entering foster care in a respective sub-category in a given year and the percentage per children and youth entering foster care in that given year.


Many children entering the child welfare system have been exposed to developmental and health risk factors, including, poverty and substance abuse, and parental neglect and abuse (Halfon et al., 1995; Silver et al., 1999; Wulczyn et al., 1997; Wulczyn et al., 2005). Societal and familial risk factors, including parental incarceration and HIV/AIDS, are also related to children entering the child welfare system (Chipungu & Bent-Goodley, 2004). Moreover, these risk factors tend to coexist and interact, presenting a complex family dynamic and a complicated set of service needs (Chipungu & Bent-Goodley, 2004).

Compared to the general child population, children involved in the child welfare system are more likely to have physical, learning and mental health conditions that limit their daily activities, to be living in high-risk parental care (Green et al., 2005) and to be living in households with incomes below poverty (Wulczyn et al., 2005).


The downward trend in admissions in New York City reflects the efforts of the NYC Administration for Children's Services and the increased availability of community-based preventive services that has reduced the reliance on foster care.

Foster care trends tend to be cyclical. Situations such as the mid-1980s onset of the crack-cocaine epidemic contributed to an earlier increase in foster care. More recently, the use of other hard drugs such as methamphetamines could have serious consequences for children.


  • In 2022, the rate of children in foster care in New York State was 1.2 per 1,000 children, birth through 21 years of age.  In 2005, the foster care rate was 2.3 per 1,000 children, birth through 21 years of age. The rate of children and youth in foster care in New York City (1.3 per 1,000) is slightly greater than the rate in Rest of State (1.2 per 1,000).
  • Foster care admissions rates continue to follow a downward trend in New York State, New York City and the Rest of State since 2005.  However, the rates have remained relatively steady in the past five years.  


Chipungu, S.S. and T.B. Bent-Goodley. 2004. Meeting the challenges of contemporary foster care. In: S. Bass (Ed.), Children, Families, and Foster Care. Pp. 75-93. From The Future of Children, a publication of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Green, R., A. Sommers and M. Cohen. 2005. Medicaid spending on children in foster children. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.

Halfon N.G., A. Mendonca A and G. Berkowitz. 1995. Health status of children in foster care: The experience of the center for the vulnerable child. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 149: 386-392.

Silver, J. A., B.J. Amster and T. Haecker (Eds.). 1999. Young children and foster care. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Wulczyn, Fred, Richard P. Barth, Ying-Ying T. Yuan, Brenda Jones Harden, and John Landsverk. 2005. Beyond common sense: Child welfare, child well-being, and the evidence for policy reform.New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

Wulczyn, F., D. Zeidman and A. Svirsky. 1997. “Homebuilders: A family reunification demonstration project.” In: J.D. Berrick, R.P. Barth, and N. Gilbert, Child Welfare Research Review, Volume II. New York: Columbia University Press.

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