How Many Youth Are Missing From Foster Care?

According to the Department of Family and Protective Services, there are about 1,700-2,000 children and youth are reported as missing from foster care in any given year. In many cases, “missing” in reality means that they have run away. Running away from foster care puts youth at risk of many dangers, including abduction, physical harm, exploitation, homelessness, substance use and more.

Reasons youth give most frequently for running away are anger at the system, dissatisfaction with rules of their placement, desire to be on their own, and wanting to see their family. They are more likely to run away from highly restrictive placements, such as residential treatment centers, emergency shelters and therapeutic foster care.

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