The Alarming Rise Of Children In Foster Care

12/13/2016 03:07 pm ET Updated Mar 17, 2017

For many years, there had been a decrease in the number of children being placed into the foster care system in the United States of America. Yet, for the past three years, there has been just the opposite; there has been a national increase in the number of children being placed into foster care.

The number of children placed into care peaked in 2002, with 524,000 children reported placed into foster care. According to a study by the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), the number of children placed into foster care fell to a low of 397,000 in 2012, and has again risen to 428,000 in 2015. During this time, roughly three fourths of the United States reported increases in children placed into foster care during the years of 2014 and 2015. The larger number of children being placed into foster care, nationwide, is due much in part of an increase in parental drug usage and substance abuse, with Heroin use being the chief drug increasing among parents. Other substance abuse among parents include meth, cocaine and prescription medication abuse. Along with this, more children are also being placed into foster care due to parental neglect.

Five states, in particular, stood out with the largest increases between the years of 2013-2015. These states include Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, and Minnesota, with these states accounting for 65 percent of the nationwide increase. Georgia had the largest increase during this time, and saw their number of children placed into state care rise from ,7600 in September 2013 to 13,266 in November of 2016. Indiana had the second largest increase, with their numbers increasing by 37 percent from 12,382 in 2013 to 17,023 in 2015. Minnesota saw an increase of children placed into their state foster care by 33 percent The state of Florida saw an increase of children being placed into care between this time period of 24 percent. Finally, Arizona saw their numbers increase from 17,592 children placed into foster care to 18,657 during the same time period.

Of the 428,000 children in foster care across the nation, the average age of a child rests at 8. The average time spent in foster care is 13 months. 52 percent of children placed into care are boys, with 48 percent being girls. Finally, 42 percent are classified as white, 24 percent classified as black or African American, and 22 percent are classified as Hispanic.

Indeed, the numbers are troubling, and the statistics are concerning. Yet, it is important that these numbers and statistics are addressed in order to best meet the needs of children in foster care; in order to find homes for children in need.

Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 14 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 50 children come through their home. He is the director of The Foster Care Institute, a consultant to legal firms and foster care agencies, as well as a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system Dr. DeGarmo and his wife were recently named a Good Morning America Ultimate Hero. He is the author of several foster care books, including the The Foster Parenting Manual, and writes for several publications, including Foster Focus magazine. He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail.com, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at The Foster Care Institute.

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