Focus on the Figures: Youth in Three or More Placements

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

For children and youth in foster care, placement stability is important, as it is traumatic for children to be moved from one living situation to another. Kidsdata has charted, from 2002 to 2012, the percent of foster youth experiencing three or more placements during their first 12 months after a removal to foster care. It includes only youths under the age of 18.

The graph below shows some positive news for California. From 2002 to 2012, the percentage of children who had to move 3 or more times within their first year of foster care declined from about 20 percent to 14 percent.


Nationally, the Department of Health and Human Services solicits similar information from states for its Child Welfare Outcomes Reports. One of the reports is entitled “Number of Placements by Time in Care,” and there is a section on those in care less than 12 months.

The vast majority of states, 38 to be exact, report between 10 percent and 20 percent of foster youths experiencing three-plus placements in the first 12 months.

In six states – Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Ohio – less than 10 percent of youths experienced a third placement within 12 months.

Another six states – Arkansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oregon, Vermont and Oklahoma – reported more than 20 percent of foster youth had been sent to three or more placements.

John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of the Chronicle of Social Change

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