Every 2 minutes a new child enters foster care in the US. A large percentage of those kids are never adopted and exit the system without family nor community.
At age 18 or 21, state and federal support abruptly ends for foster youth: Each year, 35,000 – 40,000 are ejected from the system.
These young people — who’ve experienced on average seven relocations during their time in foster care — are left to fend for themselves without permanent connections to, or support from, a stable family; often without typical self-sufficiency skills; and with no community networks to help them successfully transition to adulthood.
All most former foster youth exit the system with are grim statistics predicting they’ll be among the least likely to succeed in society:
- More than 1 in 5 will become homeless after age 18, and 50% of foster youth who “age out” experience periods of homelessness;
- 58% will graduate high school by 19 (compared to 87% of all 19 year olds);
- At the age of 24, only half are employed;
- Fewer than 3% will earn a college degree by age 25 (compared to 28% of all);
- 1 in 4 will be in the justice system within 2 years of leaving foster care;
- 70% of all California State Prison inmates spent time in foster care;
- 77% of girls sold into sex trafficking in LA spent time in foster care;
- 71% of young women are pregnant by 21, facing higher rates of unemployment, criminal conviction, and public assistance;
- 21% of foster care alumni suffer from PTSD, a staggering rate that is; higher than that of U.S. war veterans;
- The cost to society is $8 billion.
Resourceful former foster youth may secure Section 8 Housing. But with no family or community to help them set up their first homes, those “homes” are apartments empty of furniture and basic necessities most people take for granted. These transitioning youth sleep, eat and study on bare floors. They store their clothing in suitcases or plastic garbage bags.
Having already endured lives of emotional and/or physical trauma, these young people are now left with no sense of security, external or internal. They’re left to fend for themselves, with no semblance of a foundation on which to build or from which to move forward, let alone thrive.