Challenges for Foster Youth
Circumstances associated with a child’s removal from home and placement into care are most often reported as neglect (63%) or drug abuse by a parent (34%). In FY 2020, approximately 244,952 children were placed into foster care for these reasons.
According to youth.gov, when youth “age out” of the child welfare system with limited connections or without that support of positive, caring adults, they may have an increased risk of facing the following challenges:
Unstable housing or homelessness
- More than 1/5 of foster care youth experience homelessness for at least one day within a year of emancipation.
- Students in foster care score 16 – 20 percentile points below their peers in state standardized testing and fewer than 60% graduate from high school.
- Many lack the skills required to hold a steady job, or the incentive and academic preparation to attend a college or training program.
Problems with physical health, behavioral health and general well-beingLack of access to health care
- 25% of 19-year-old former foster care youth reported a higher incidence of health problems then non-foster care youth in a comparison study.
- 1/3 of foster care youth had mental health disorders including depression, PTSD, alcohol abuse, substance abuse, etc.
- Some states offer Medicaid for youth until 21 years of age, but others may terminate eligibility for Medicaid and other forms of public assistance earlier.
Justice system involvement
- Youth emancipating from foster care may be at greater risk of becoming involved with the criminal justice system due to lack of support networks, low employment skills and unstable living arrangements.
- Permanent relationships with positive adults are a powerful protective factor against negative outcomes and can provide critical support to youth as they transition to adulthood.