Focus on the Figures: Length of Time from Foster Care to Adoption

Every other week, The Imprint features one key indicator from, which offers comprehensive data about the health and well-being of children across California.

The majority of foster children are reunified with their parents after removal from them, but across the United States about 50,000 youth each year are adopted from foster care, according to the federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS).

In California, the Center for Social Services Research tracks the length of time between the most recent removal of a child from home and her adoption. The chart below shows the percentage of youths who were adopted within 24 months of the removal:


The chart reflects a dramatic increase in the percentage of children who move from removal to adoption in a short window of time. Just 17.6 percent of foster care adoptees were adopted within two years in 2000, compared to 36.4 percent in 2012.

AFCARS measures a different metric when it comes to adoption timeliness: the time between adoption and termination of parental rights (TPR), which can happen long after removal. The 2012 AFCARS report has the mean length of time between TPR and adoption at 13.1 months, and median length of time at 9.2 months.

John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of The Imprint.

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