Why Do Kids Get Put Into Foster Care?

By Candice Coleman

Updated September 26, 2017

Father assaulting son

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Foster parents may temporarily care for and live with children who have been removed from the custody of their legal parents. Foster children are often returned to the care of their biological or legal parents as soon as possible. Other times, foster parents may be able to adopt their foster children 2. The reasons behind a child's placement into foster care vary widely.


About 800,000 children a year may require removal from their home, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics 34. Accusations of physical or sexual abuse of the child, substance abuse on the part of the parent or primary caregiver, or neglect may cause a child to be placed into foster care. Sometimes, an adolescent's repeated run-ins with the law may result in placement into foster care, according to the Oregon Youth Authority, on the presumption that the adolescent's parents are unable or unwilling to supervise and exert control over the child's behavior 5. These circumstances may prevent parents from ever regaining custody of their children.

Health And Ability

Foster care is not only a requirement in cases of parental trouble. In some cases, a parent may be very ill and unable to work or care for a child, according to KidsHealth. The death of a parent may also make it difficult for the other parent to provide the care a child needs. Parents who are in incarcerated may lose custody of their children until they have served their sentences. These foster care placements are usually temporary.

Other Reasons

Some parents turn their children over to foster care due to severe behavioral or developmental problems, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 34. In other cases, parents voluntarily give up their children for no apparent reason. Financial constraints can also make it necessary to place a child into foster care, according to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services 25.

Additional Information

If you are a foster parent or you are considering becoming a foster parent, it is important to ask your foster agency about the reasons for your child's placement. You may not be able or willing to provide for all of a future foster child's needs. It is also important to ask about any services or help that may be available to you as a foster parent, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics 34.