NSCAW, No. 2: Foster Children's Caregivers and Caregiving Environments, Research Brief, Findings from the NSCAW Study

Published: January 15, 2007
Abuse, Neglect, Adoption & Foster Care
National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), 1997-2014 and 2015-2022 | Learn more about this project
NSCAW: Research Briefs

According to most recent estimates, over 530,000 children are in foster care in the United States. These children live in a variety of settings, including non-relative foster homes, the homes of relatives, and group homes. However, despite widespread concern for these children, little research has been available to provide a national picture of the circumstances in which these children reside. NSCAW presents a unique profile of the experiences of children in foster care in the United States. Focusing on a national sample of children in foster care for 1 year, it provides a portrait of foster caregivers and foster caregiving environments, as well as the perceptions that children themselves have about their foster caregivers and their experiences in foster care.

This research brief focuses on the 727 children who had been in foster care for 12 months at the time the study began and their current caregivers. The data were drawn from interviews with the children, their current caregivers, and their caseworkers a few months after the study began in 1999. The average age of the children in this sample was 7 years. Over 50% of the children were in traditional, non-kinship foster homes, 33% were in kinship foster homes, and an additional 15% were in group homes. (More details on the children are available from Research Brief 1 in this series.) It is important to note that only a small number of children from group care were sampled, so findings related to this particular group should be interpreted with caution.