The number of children in the U.S. foster care system has dropped for a second year in a row, and a record number of children in the child welfare system were able to find adoptive homes, according to new federal data released Monday.
The annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services counted about 424,000 children in foster care as of Sept. 30, 2019, down from about 435,000 a year earlier.
The peak was 524,000 children in foster care in 2002. The number dropped steadily to about 396,000 in 2012 before rising again as the opioid epidemic and other forms of drug abuse began to worsen across the U.S. That surge began to wane in 2018.
The new data showed that a record 66,035 children were adopted out of the U.S. child welfare system in the 2019 fiscal year, up from 63,000 in 2017.
Just over half of the newly reported adoptions were carried out by foster parents, while members of the children’s extended family accounted for 36% of the adoptions…