Foster Care Participation: Early Childhood

What is foster care?

Foster care is a temporary living situation, overseen by the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS), for children who cannot be safely cared for by their parents or guardians. OCID’s Foster Care Participation: Early Childhood indicator shows the percentage of children who have experienced one or more foster care placements before the age of 5. The population of children who cannot remain safely in their homes and must enter foster care is diverse in age, culture, and background.

Children enter foster care for a variety of reasons. Historically, a large percentage of children enter into foster care due to neglect, with a smaller percentage entering due to physical abuse. Families of neglected and abused children are often experiencing a complex array of challenges, including economic and housing instability, and untreated mental health and drug and/or alcohol addictions.

To learn more about the Foster Care data presented here, check out our Technical Dictionary.

Why is foster care participation important?

Oregon has nearly twice as many children placed in foster care compared with the national average. Oregon also has a deficiency of services to prevent children from coming into care, including a lack of services to meet the needs of children and their families or caregivers. As a result, more children come into foster care and stay in care longer compared with national averages. While approximately 7,000 Oregon children and youth are in foster care at a given time, less than 7 percent require specialized services. Depending on the availability of appropriate placement settings and services, some children have been placed in temporary lodging or out-of-state programs.

Placement and service shortages have led to the passage of Oregon Senate Bill 1 and a movement toward a more integrated and collaborative service delivery system. In April 2019, Governor Kate Brown issued an Executive Order (No. 19-03) which created a Child Welfare Oversight Board to make and implement recommendations to improve Oregon’s system for supporting safe children and thriving families.


To learn more about foster care, please visit the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS):

Please remember the following
  • OCID only includes children born in Oregon since 2001; ideally, the dataset will be expanded over time to represent all of the children in Oregon.
  • The Dashboard shows descriptive data, not causal relationships.
  • At this time, OCID is not able to filter the foster care measure by race and ethnicity; OCID is working to develop an overarching methodology to allow for an in depth view into racial and ethnic disparities across all data in OCID.
  • To protect the identities of individuals, OCID only shows results for populations; where populations are too small and could reveal identifiable information, OCID displays the result as “Suppressed.”

For more information about the dataset, please visit our Technical Dictionary .

Ready to explore the data?

The indicator display below provides two views:

  • A dashboard view for a structured way to look at the indicator by selecting a geography and then 1-2 other attributes; and,
  • A “sandbox” view for freely exploring the various attributes.

Please visit the About OCID and Explore OCID Population pages before exploring the data. For details on the indicator, attributes, data sources, and limitations, please visit the Technical Dictionary.


What explains any trends and disparities?

We don’t know yet. The Dashboard shows descriptive data, not causal relationships.  In depth analyses are needed to understand why disparities or trends occur.

OCID’s Governance Committee is working to set priorities for the 2020 analyses, which will examine the dynamics behind selected Dashboard indicators. Sign up below to receive OCID updates.

Suggested citation: Center for Evidence-based Policy, Oregon Health & Science University. Foster care participation: early childhood dashboard. Oregon Child Integrated Dataset (OCID) website. Published June 3, 2020.

The Center for Evidence-based Policy partners with the Center for Health Systems Effectiveness, also at Oregon Health & Science University, on dashboard analytics.