By The Associated Press, The New York Times, October 24, 2019
The number of children in the U.S. foster care system has dropped for the first time since 2012, stemming a surge that was linked to substance abuse by parents, according to new federal data released on Thursday.
The annual report from the Department of Health and Human Services counted 437,283 children in foster care as of Sept. 30, 2018, down from about 441,000 a year earlier.
The peak was 524,000 children in foster care in 2002. The number dropped steadily to about 396,000 in 2012 before rising again as the opioid epidemic and other forms of drug abuse began to worsen across the U.S.