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The Unseen Costs of Foster Care: A Social Return on Investment Study

The foster care system, and more broadly child welfare in the U.S., is a complex and diverse system with wide-ranging factors influencing a child’s well-being, their placement in out-of-home care, and the resulting life outcomes. In recent years, the number of children in foster care has grown, now reaching approximately 670,000 children in 2016. This analysis was initiated to establish an understanding of the resulting long term outcomes for that child, given their experience in foster care. The resulting values then allow for calculating a Social Return on Investment, an estimate of the value generated as a result of each dollar of public spending that goes towards putting a child in the foster care system.

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