Foster care population drops for 6th straight year

The number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped for the sixth straight year, falling to about 400,000 compared to more than 520,000 a decade ago.

The drop results primarily from a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many have shortened stays in foster care, expedited adoptions and expanded preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed from home in the first place.

The new figures show there were 400,540 children in foster care as of Sept. 30. That's down by about 6,000 from a year earlier.

State by state, the picture was mixed. New York and Pennsylvania were among states extending dramatic declines. In other states, such as Arizona, Florida and Georgia, the numbers went up.