National Child Welfare Statistics // home

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), the nation's oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization, releases its "Nation's Children Report" each year. The statistics about the health and welfare of America's children are startling, but the report also contains good news – thanks to organizations like yours.

"Despite the bad news, we are seeing the results of our nation's emphasis on protecting and supporting children, as fewer are in foster care," says Chris James-Brown, CEO, CWLA.

Below are select facts from the report that highlight the state of U.S. children:

  • 19 percent of children under 18 live in poverty (2008), up from 16.1 percent in 2000.
  • 23.1 million people age 12 or older needed treatment for drug or alcohol abuse (2008).
  • Nearly 1.7 million children under the age of 18 were arrested (2007).
  • More than 2.6 million grandparents had primary care responsibility for their grandchildren (2008).
  • 492,618 children were in foster care (2007).
  • More than 51,000 children were legally adopted through the public child welfare agency (2007),
    a 1.3 percent increase from 2006.
  • Nearly 29,000 children aged out of out-of-home care (2007).
  • States spent at least $25.7 billion for child welfare services (2006).
  • An estimated 1.6 million children received subsidized child care monthly (2008).
  • CWLA recommends a caseload of 12 to 15 children per caseworker. The average caseload size is
    closer to 26.3 for child protective service workers.

The "Nation's Children 2010," including the state reports, is available for free online at CWLA's web site. In addition, prior year reports are also available for comparison.

About CWLA

CWLA is a powerful coalition of hundreds of private and public agencies serving vulnerable children and families since 1920. Through its programs, publications, research, conferences, professional development, and consultation CWLA speaks with authority and candor about the status and the needs of American children, young people, and families. As the nationally recognized standard-setter for child welfare services, CWLA provides direct support to agencies that serve children and families, improving the quality of the services they provide to more than nine million children every year.

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