Wednesday, July 6

How USA TODAY found foster children who suffered broken adoptions

To identify more than 66,000 children whose adoptions failed, USA TODAY scoured a massive database designed to track every child in America who passes through foster care.

The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, started in 1993, contains data that states submit twice a year. USA TODAY entered a data-sharing agreement promising to ensure the security and confidentiality of the data. Reporters reviewed the records of 3.4 million children who spent time in foster care from 2008 to 2020.

A key feature of the AFCARS database is the clues it holds to a child’s past.

When child welfare workers remove children from home and place them in foster care, states are supposed to note whether they were previously adopted. That offers a potential window to see children whose adoptions failed.

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