NYC’s Homeless Children Account for 5% of All Foster Care Placements with One Out of Three Removals Happening Before Age One

NYC’s Homeless Children Account for 5% of All Foster Care Placements with One Out of Three Removals Happening Before Age One

 New York City, NY – A new report by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, released during National Foster Care Month, reveals heart-breaking data about a most vulnerable population. In New York City, one in three children who are placed in foster care are separated from their parents before their first birthdays. “Taken Away: The Prevalence of Homeless Children in Foster Care,” explores the relationship between homeless children, their families and foster care. The policy spotlight highlights the imperative needs of these families while raising questions about how to better support them so the families can stay together and the children are maintained in safe, stable homes. The report can be accessed at

Critical key findings:

  • Children saw the greatest risk of separation at infancy – 1 in 3 New York City children removed from homeless families entered foster care before their first birthday, compared to 1 in 5 housed children in foster care (31% to 20%).
  • Two-thirds of homeless children in foster care were put into foster care when they were five years old or younger, compared to less than half of NYC children placed in foster care for other reasons (64% to 46%).
  • Compared to families who are not homeless, close to two times as many children who were taken away from homeless families had parents who needed support for physical and emotional illnesses/disabilities, alcohol abuse, or substance abuse (51% to 28%).

“That homeless children account for only 5% of all foster care placements may not appear to be significant, but as the number of homeless families grows exponentially the number of homeless children lost to foster care system will certainly do the same,” said ICPH’s President and CEO Ralph da Costa Nunez.

The Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH) is an independent nonprofit research organization based in New York City. ICPH studies the impact of poverty on family and child well-being and generates research that will enhance public policies and programs affecting poor or homeless children and their families. Specifically, ICPH examines the condition of extreme poverty in the United States and its effect on educational attainment, housing, employment, child welfare, domestic violence, and family wellness.


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