Why Invest in Older Youth In Foster Care?
Over the past decade, the number of young people aging out of foster care without permanent connections to caring adults has continued to grow. Since 1999, more than 230,000 young people have aged out of the foster care system. Nearly 30,000 young people aged out in 2008 alone.
Many of these young people leave foster care – typically at the age of 18 – without the support of family networks and without essential skills and relationships we all need to transition to adulthood.
Not surprisingly, research shows that young people who are transitioning from foster care experience very poor outcomes at a much higher rate than their peers. Young people who transition from foster care suffer significantly higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, unwanted pregnancy, and lack of access to health care.
We can do better. The time is ripe for investment.
- The Fostering Connections Act of 2008 presents states with the opportunity to extend foster care to 21 and leverage federal dollars in support expanded services. Eight states have already extended foster care beyond the age of 18. Many more are considering the extension.
- We know more about what’s needed and what’s working for older youth in foster care. While research questions remain, we’re identifying more and more promising approaches to effectively support transitioning youth.
- The total population of youth who age of foster is relatively small. Moderate investments can produce population-wide change.
- We are willing and able partners. The FCWG welcome new investors and provides a network to leverage each member’s investment and extend each member’s reach.