Foster Care Alumni: The Forgotten Population
We’ll start with a little puzzle. I’ll give you some statistics, and I want you to try and guess what group of Americans I’m referring to. Here we go:
Every year, 23,000 children join this category. 70% of these girls will become pregnant by the age of 21. There’s a 43% chance that any member of this group, male or female, will not receive their GED and less than a 3% that they will ever get a college degree. Any guesses yet? Here’s one more: 20% of this population will become instantly homeless by the age of eighteen.
Each of these statistics, which were collected by the National Foster Youth Institute and the National Conference of State Legislature, refer to children who age out of the Foster Care System. These are children, who upon reaching the age of eighteen, transition out of the Child Welfare system into… what?
Theoretically, these children transition into rehabilitative programs as an active citizen of society and receive help and resources from a number of places: nonprofits targeting child welfare or foster youth, privately-funded programs meant to rehabilitate children, federal programs that encourage workforce readiness or provide housing - the list goes on. And yet, even with all of these resources, we continue to see a gap between aging out of Foster Care and actually receiving any services. This has enormous impacts socially and financially, not only on the Foster Youth, but on you (the American taxpayer), as well.
The Solution: a federal mandate that requires every state to either provide transition programs with federal funding already available (through Title IV-E funding), or require that every child’s case plan connects them to already existing programs way before they turn eighteen. A federal mandate simply says to a state, “use what we have given you to create programs where there are none, or make it a priority to establish knowledge and implementation of the programs already available.” We would be holding every state accountable for their children, and create better lives for those disadvantaged by our Foster Care System. By signing this petition, you are supporting a better future for our children. Let’s change lives today.
P.S. We provide more help to people leaving the prison system than we do for our young adults leaving the Foster Care System. A federal mandate that requires our states and our country to utilize the programs we already have would not only help them become productive citizens, but could keep teens from becoming criminals themselves - especially when 60% of Foster Care Alumni are convicted of a crime at some point in their life.