Focus on the Figures: Median Number of Months in Care

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

Among California children in foster care, the median length of stay has declined from 17 months in 2001 to 14 months in 2010 (the latest data available). However, the median length of stay increased slightly between 2009 and 2010, the first increase in a decade.

CSC-graphic-2013.10.24Experts indicate that this improvement, and others in California’s foster care system over the last decade, are due in part to increased attention from state and local policymakers. For example, in 2006, the state created the Child Welfare Council, a permanent advisory body focused on improving collaboration and coordination across the courts, agencies, and departments that serve children. Click here to read more on the subject from the Public Policy Institute of California.

Federal data suggests that California has shortened the median stay while the national trend has gone in the opposite direction. The median in California was five-and-a-half months higher than the national median in 2001 (17.2 months versus 11.5); by 2010, California had drawn even with the national figure at 14 months.

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

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