Foster care is a system in which a minor has been placed into a ward, group home (residential child care community, treatment center, etc.), or private home of a state-certified caregiver, referred to as a "foster parent" or with a family member approved by the state. The placement of the child is normally arranged through the government or a social service agency. The institution, group home or foster parent is compensated for expenses unless with a family member. In some states, relative or "Kinship" caregivers of children who are wards of the state, are provided with a financial stipend.
The state, via the family court and child protective services agency, stand in loco parentis to the minor, making all legal decisions while the foster parent is responsible for the day-to-day care of the minor.
Foster care is correlated with a range of negative outcomes compared to the general population. Children in foster care suffer a high rate of ill health, particularly psychiatric conditions such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders. One third of foster children in a US study reported abuse from a foster parent or other adult in the foster home. Nearly half of foster children in the US become homeless when they reach the age of 18, and the poverty rate is three times as high among foster care alumni as in the general population.