Legislating for the Wellbeing of Children: The Impact of Policy on Foster Care

Understanding the Challenges Faced by Children in the Foster Care System

In the United States, hundreds of thousands of children navigate the complexities of the foster care system each year. These vulnerable youth often find themselves at the mercy of circumstances beyond their control, with limited agency in determining their own futures. As Senator Lena C. Taylor highlights, the experiences of these children underscore the critical need for responsible policies and elected officials who prioritize their well-being. This article explores the latest data on the foster care system, examines the impact of recent policy initiatives, and underscores the importance of sound legislation in transforming the lives of children in need.

The Numbers Behind Foster Care

According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), an estimated 606,031 children passed through the US foster care system over the course of one year. This staggering figure encompasses both children already in the system and those who entered it during the same period. As of September 30, 2021, approximately 391,098 children were in foster care, highlighting the ongoing demand for support and intervention.

The Wisconsin Foster Care Landscape

Within the state of Wisconsin, the Department of Children and Families reports that around 7,000 children currently reside in the foster care system. Ranging in age from newborns to young adults up to 21 years old, these youth often face unique challenges. Many are adolescents, part of sibling groups, or have special needs. Understanding the factors that contribute to foster care placements is crucial in addressing the root causes of these issues.

The Role of Policy in Transforming Lives

Thankfully, the Biden-Harris Administration has made significant strides in strengthening services for children and families within the child welfare system. With a focus on prevention and support, they have allocated substantial funding to community-based child abuse and neglect prevention programs. Additionally, they have proposed a $5 billion expansion of evidence-based foster care prevention services, enabling more children to remain safely in their own homes. Recognizing the challenges faced by youth aging out of foster care, the administration has also committed $9 billion to provide housing assistance.

Empowering Kinship Caregivers and Protecting LGBTQI+ Youth

In a landmark move, the Biden-Harris Administration has implemented regulations to support kinship caregivers. These regulations streamline access to resources and financial assistance, ensuring that families can provide the best possible care for their relatives. Furthermore, the administration has taken steps to protect LGBTQI+ youth in foster care from abuse and discrimination, offering them the necessary services and support. Expanding access to legal services for children and families at risk of entering or already within the child welfare system has also been a priority.


While luck may play a role in the lives of some children, it is ultimately responsible policies and dedicated elected officials that have the power to transform the foster care system. The Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to strengthening services for children and families represents a significant step forward. By investing in prevention, expanding support for kinship caregivers, and prioritizing the needs of LGBTQI+ youth, these policies have the potential to profoundly impact the safety and well-being of families across the nation. It is through the collective efforts of lawmakers, advocates, and communities that lasting change can be achieved, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive.

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