Over the past two decades, the federal government has encouraged states to move more children from foster care to permanent homes through adoption or guardianship. During that time, the number of children in federally subsidized foster care has steadily declined, while the number of children whose adoptive parents receive federal adoption assistance has increased. (That pattern is similar for children in foster care and adoption placements that are subsidized only at the state level.) CBO expects those trends to continue, aided by recent legislation that established federal reimbursements for guardianship and eliminated the income-eligibility threshold for federal adoption assistance. In fiscal year 2013, the federal government will spend a total of almost $7 billion on foster care, adoption assistance, and guardianship assistance programs, CBO estimates. The changes in caseloads for the three programs that CBO expects under current law would raise such spending to $8.5 billion by 2023.
For more detail on CBO's most recent projections for foster care, adoption assistance, and guardianship assistance programs, see Foster Care and Adoption Assistance—February 2013 Baseline.
Jonathan Morancy is an analyst in CBO’s Budget Analysis Division.