Child Welfare and Treatment Statistics

In the past three decades, the United States has experienced at least three major shifts in substances of abuse that have had dramatic effects on children and families. However, the increase of opioid misuse has been described by long-time child welfare professionals as having the worst effects on child welfare systems that they have seen. Studies indicate that there is substantial overlap between parents involved in the child welfare and substance use treatment systems. However, identifying these families is difficult, as neither child welfare or substance use treatment are required to capture the data elements necessary to identify families in both systems. The following graphs present current statistics on this issue.

Prevalence of Parental Alcohol or Other Drug Use as a Contributing Factor for Reason for Removal in the United States, 2000 to 2016

1.	This line graph shows an increase in the prevalence of parental alcohol or other drug use and a contributing factor for reason for removal in the United States from the year 2000 through the year 2015. The increase over this time period is 15.9%. The data points are: 2000: 18.5%, 2001: 19.6%, 2002: 21.9%, 2003: 23.0%, 2004: 23.9%, 2005: 24.7%, 2006: 25.9%, 2007: 26.5%, 2008: 26.0%, 2009: 26.2%, 2010: 28.5%, 2011: 29.5%, 2012: 30.7%, 2013: 31.3%, 2014: 32.2%, 2015: 34.4%, 2016: 35.3%. Note: Estimates are based on all children in out-of-home care at some point during Fiscal Year.
  • Child welfare workers report that most children in child welfare, and the overwhelming majority of children placed in out-of-home care, have a parent with an alcohol or other substance use disorder.
  • Parental alcohol or other drug use as a contributing factor for reason for removal increased from 18% to over 35% in the last 16 years.


Parental Alcohol or Other Drug Use as a Contributing Factor for Reason for Removal by State, 2016

2.	This color-coded map shows the percentage of parental alcohol or other drug use as reason for removal, by state, in the year 2015. The national average is 35.3%. The data points are: AK: 69.3%, AL: 39.6%, AZ: 30.7%, AR: 48.5%, CA: 11.8%, CO: 41.1%, CT: 39.2%, DE: 10.2%, DC: 14.0%, FL: 45.8%, GA: 35.9%, HI: 27.9%, ID: 44.8%, IL: 9.8%, IN: 57.0%, IA: 48.9%, KS: 42.%, KY: 29.0%, LA: 5.3%, ME: 54.8%, MD: 27.6%, MA: 30.1%, MI: 35.%, MN: 40.6%, MS: 45.5%, MO: 48.2%, MT: 41.2%, NE: 35.1%, NV: 18.5%, NH: 4.2%, NJ: 40.6%, NM: 50.1%, NY: 21.0%, NC: 38.4%, ND: 41.2%, OH: 27.3%, OK: 46.9%, OR: 58.6%, PA: 32.0%, RI: 31.7%, SC: 19.1%, SD: 44.6%, TN: 32.2%, TX: 63.3%, UT: 57.0%, VT: 26.7%, VA: 28.6%, WA: 40.8%, WV: 47.6%, WI: 47.6%, WY: 41.7%. Note: Estimates are based on all children in out-of-home care at some point during Fiscal Year.
  • Efforts in data collection have improved in recent years, but significant undercount remains in some states.


Percent Change in Contributing Factor for Reason for Removal in the United States 2012-2016

3.	This horizontal bar graph shows the percentage change in reasons for removal in the United States from 2009 to 2015 (decrease or increase). It highlights the fact that “Parental Alcohol or Other Drug Use (AOD)” is the highest percent increase. The data points are: Parental Death: -42.86%, Child Disability: -31.03%, Child Behavior Problem: -27.14%, Child AOD: -24.24%, Caretaker inablility to Cope: -19.37%, Sexual Abuse: -14.58%, Physical Abuse: -12.84%, Relinquishment: -9.09%, Abandonment: -2.0%, Inadequate Housing: -0.91%, Parent Incarceration: 5.63%, Neglect: 8.40%, Parental Alcohol and Other Drug Use (AOD): 14.98%.
  • Despite the undercount by states, the percentage of children entering foster care that had parent drug abuse reported as a reason for removal increased from 30.7% in 2012 to 35.3% in 2016. This is the largest increase of any reason for removal.


Number of Children Who Entered Foster Care, by Age at Removal in the United States, 2016

4.	This horizontal bar graph shows the number of children who entered foster care, by age at removal in the United States in 2015. It highlights the fact that the highest number of children are in the “Less than 1 Year” age group. The data points are: Less than 1 Year: 49,234, Age 1: 20,709, Age 2: 18,282, Age 3: 16,236, Age 4: 14,610, Age 5: 13,724, Age 6: 13,260, Age 7: 12,897, Age 8: 11,923, Age 9: 11,051, Age 10: 9,935, Age 11: 9,270, Age 12: 9,491, Age 13: 10,532, Age 14: 12,172, Age 15: 13,976, Age 16: 14,338, Age 17: 10,439, Age 18+: 1,427. N=273,506. Note: Estimates based on all children who entered foster care during Fiscal Year.
  • Younger children make up a larger percentage of children in out-of-home care, with children under five representing over 41% of children in care. This alarming rate of young children coming into care is especially troubling, as children ages 0–3 are especially vulnerable.


Estimated Number of Infants* Affected by Prenatal Exposure, by Type of Substance and Infant Disorder, 2016

5.	This vertical bar graph shows the estimated number of babies born with prenatal substance exposure, by number and percentage. The data points are: Tobacco: 488,000 (12.2%), Alcohol: 352,000 (8.7%), Illicit Drugs: 220,000 (5.4%), Bindge Drinking: 176,000 (4.4%), Heavy Drinking: 34,000 (0.8%), NAS: 24,000 (6 per 1,000 births), FASD: 28,000 (0.2-7 per 1,000 births). Includes nine categories of illicit drug use: use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants, as well as the non-medical use of prescription-type pain relievers, trainquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives.
  • The prevalence rates of infants with prenatal substance exposure in the child welfare caseload is currently unknown due to states' variation in identification and reporting practices.
*Approximately 4 million (3,945,875) live births in 2016; National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 66, No. 1 https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr66/nvsr66_01_tables.pdf Estimates based on rates of past month drug use: National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2016; https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016/NSDUH-DetTabs-2016.pdf

** Includes nine categories of illicit drug use: use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants, as well as the non-medical use of prescription-type pain relievers, tran quilizers, stimulants, and sedatives

Patrick, et al., (2015). Increasing incidence and geographic distribution of neonatal abstinence syndrome: United States 2009 to 2012. Journal of Perinatology, 35 (8), 667 May, P.A., and Gossage, J.P.(2001).Estimating the prevalence of fetal alcohol syndrome: A summary. Alcohol Research & Health 25(3):159-167. Retrieved October 21, 2012 from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh25-3/159-167.htm

Sources

The data used in this publication were made available by the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and have been used with permission. Data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) were originally collected by the Children’s Bureau. Funding for the project was provided by the Children’s Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The collector of the original data, the funder, NDACAN, Cornell University and their agents or employees bear no responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here.


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