The 2022 survey conducted by Maddie's Fund® provides valuable insights into the utilization and support of foster care programs for dogs and cats in the United States. The survey revealed that a significant majority of physical shelters (88%) reported having a foster care program in place. However, there are still barriers that prevent some shelters from establishing foster care programs, such as difficulties in finding suitable foster homes, concerns about liability, limited staff resources, and insufficient funding.
The survey also explored the trends in intake and utilization of foster care programs. The intake of dogs and cats in physical shelters remained relatively stable since 2018. Regarding foster care utilization, the survey showed an increase in the percentage of animals placed in foster care for physical shelters compared to 2018.
The survey further examined the dynamics of foster care programs and identified important factors impacting foster care placement. The data indicated a consistent number of pets being sent to foster care by physical shelters and rescue organizations over the past four years. However, there was a positive growth in the number of active foster caregivers in both physical shelters and rescue organizations compared to 2018. Importantly, the survey revealed a correlation between the foster onboarding wait time and the number of pets sent to foster care. Shorter foster onboarding wait times were associated with a higher median number of pets placed in foster care.
Furthermore, the survey shed light on the changing landscape of foster caregiver processes, and underscored the impact of time-consuming steps, such as home checks, on foster care placement.