Looking for quick facts about the Washington state child welfare system? We’ve got you covered. Below is a list of answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive at Partners for Our Children. If you would like to see how these data fluctuate over time or how it compares in different areas of the state, simply click on the Data Portal link to further explore that particular data.

How often are siblings placed together when they enter the system?

On January 1, 2015, among the children in out-of-home care, more than 59 percent of siblings were placed ‘all together,’ roughly 17 percent were placed with ‘some’ of their siblings, and nearly 24 percent were not placed with any siblings. The trend since 2000 has been a steady increase in the percent of siblings placed ‘all together’ and a steady decrease in the percent of siblings not placed with any sibling.   

Where do children go when they are removed from their homes?

On January 1, 2015, a total of about 93 percent of the children in out-of-home care were in a family setting: approximately 52 percent were in foster homes and over 41 percent were with relatives. Nearly seven percent of children in out-of home care were in a non-family setting (e.g., a group home); this is a four percent drop from the percent of children in non-family settings in 2000.

How long do children stay in care?

Children who entered out-of-home care in 2010 had a median length of stay of 15 months. Note: we use data from children entering care in 2010 so that we can get a more complete picture of the duration they spend in care. 

What are the educational outcomes of children in out-of-home care?

Among all students in the third grade, roughly 88 percent of children not in out-of-home care were at the age-appropriate literacy level, while only about 66 percent of those in out-of-home care had achieved the age-appropriate literacy level. Interestingly, only about 66 percent of children not in out-of-home care, but from low-income families (i.e., receiving a free or reduced price lunch subsidy) were at the age-appropriate literacy level – demonstrating similarities between children in out-of-home care and children from low-income families.

What are the outcomes for children placed in care?

Within three years of entering out-of-home care in 2010, about 59 percent of children had reunified, 16 percent were adopted, six percent were placed with a guardian, three percent emancipated, and 14 percent remained in out-of-home care. 

How many children under 5 are in the system?

In 2014, nearly 50 percent of all the children who children who entered out-of-home care were under five years of age.

To what extent are African Americans and Native Americans overrepresented in the system?

How many children are in foster care?

On January 1, 2015, there were nearly 8,400 children in out-of-home care. This represents approximately five out of every 1,000 children in Washington State. 

How many families receive services to prevent placement in foster care?

In 2014, 6,723 households received ‘placement prevention services’ (i.e., services in the home designed to prevent placement in out-of-home care).

How many children are referred to the system multiple times?

Forty-five percent of households with a child that were reported to the child welfare system in 2010 had at least one child who was re-reported within 36 months. 

How many reports of child abuse or neglect are investigated by CA?

Children’s Administration conducted an investigation and/or assessment for about 45,500 households in 2013. In this same year, nearly 6,300 children entered out-of-home care.

How much child abuse is reported in Washington?

Washington State CPS received about 90,000 unique reports of child abuse in 2014.