Foster Youth & Mental Health

•The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 75 - 80% of children who need mental health services don't receive them.
•Approximately 588,000 children reside in some form of foster care. There are about 80,000 children in foster care in California alone.
•A child in California is abused or neglected every 4 minutes.3 100 times a day a child in California enters the foster care system.
•More than 80% of children in foster care have developmental, emotional, or behavioral problems.
•Approximately 67% of parents with children in the child welfare system require substance abuse treatment, but child welfare agencies are able to provide treatment for only 31%.
•Studies have linked foster care to conduct disorder. One study found that 44% of young adults who had been in foster care reported being involved in delinquent activities that led to court charges.
•According to the County of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services, of the 1,000 youth emancipated from the foster care system in Los Angeles County each year, 45% either go directly on to the streets or end up on the streets within six weeks of emancipation.
•Three in ten of the nation's chronically homeless adults are former foster care children.
•Foster children occupy 40% of the child mental health inpatient beds on any given day.
•Among a population of foster children diagnosed with severe mental disorders, 88% were diagnosed with having the same or a more severe disorder three years later.
•Those leaving foster care are at especially high medical risk and likely to have acute, chronic, and complex health needs resulting from past neglect or abuse.
•In the United States, 1 in 10 Children and Adolescents suffer from mental illness severe enough to cause some level of impairment.

Child Welfare League of America, Fact Sheet 2005; available online at:

Children's Law Center, 2005; available online at

Shelter Partnership, A Report on Transitional Housing for Emancipated Foster Youth in Los Angeles County, April 1997. Available online at

Roman, N.P., & Wolfe, N. (1995). Web of failure: The relationship between foster care and homelessness, National Alliance to End Homelessness. Available online at

Shelter Partnership, Report on Emancipated Foster Youth, 2000. As cited by the Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness; available online at

Brindis, C.D., et al., 2003, "The Unique Health Care Needs of Adolescents," The Future of Children, Vol. 13, No. 1, Spring.