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If parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children (under the age of 18) the children often are taken into the custody of a public child welfare agency and are subsequently placed into foster care. While the child welfare agency remains responsible for any legal decisions for a child, foster families are responsible for the child’s day to day care and wellbeing. A number of children in the United States face this reality. In fiscal year 2017, there were almost 443,000 children in foster care in the United States (5.8 per 1,000); 1,592 of them in Idaho (3.6 per 1,000).

This study is the initial step in examining the long-term impacts of foster care in Idaho. The report is the first in a series that seeks to answer the question, “How does the experience associated with being removed from one’s family and placed in foster care in Idaho impact a person’s long-term outcomes?”

This first report specifically examines former foster youths’ rate of interaction with Idaho Department of Corrections (IDOC).

There are three main findings:

  • Former foster children and youth in the study are 2.2 times more likely to have interacted with IDOC than the general population.
  • The ratio for males is 2.2 times that of the general population and for females it is 2.6 times.
  • As former foster youth age, incidence increases.


This report was prepared by Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State University and commissioned by Family Advocates with support from The Idaho Governor’s Task Force on Children at Risk.

The report authors would like to acknowledge the following individuals for their support of this research project:
Anika Levinson, Graduate Student, Boise State University School of Social Work
Janeena White, Research Analyst Supervisor, Idaho Department of Corrections
Erin Phipps, Court Data Analyst, Data and Evaluation Department of the Administrative Office of the Idaho Supreme Court
McAllister Hall, Graduate Assistant, Idaho Policy Institute