November 1, 2019 Vol. 50, No. 10
Print version: page 80

As the opioid epidemic has grown, so has the number of youth who end up in foster care because of parental drug use

Number of youths living in foster care in the United States as of September 2017, according to data from the Administration for Children and Families. That’s a 1.5% increase from 2016 and an 11.6% increase from 2012, when the number began to rise after more than 10 years of decline.

The percentage of children entering the foster care system in 2017 because of parental drug use, compared with 15% in 2000. In 2016, five out of six states with the highest rates of death from opioid overdoses had increases in foster care rates, with West Virginia holding the highest rates of both.

The percentage of children under age 5 who entered foster care due to parental drug use in 2017, compared with 40% in 2000. These children were also 9% more likely to be white and 14% more likely to be from the southern United States than they were in 2000.

Sources: Meinhofer, A., & Anglero-Diaz, Y. (online, 2019). Trends in foster care entry among children removed from their homes because of parental drug use, 2000 to 2017. JAMA Pediatrics, research letter. Available at doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.1738.

Administration for Children and Families Children’s Bureau. Adoption & foster care statistics. Available at