Young people transitioning out of foster care lag their peers in completing high school and gaining employment – challenges exacerbated by race, a recent data brief finds. The brief highlights needs for improvement in the system, but might it also be showing us a need Christian community could fill to help these kids transition into adulthood?
Based on the most comprehensive foster care data set ever collected, the brief, Fostering Youth Transitions: Using Data to Drive Policy and Practice Decisions , found that young people who experienced foster care reported significantly lower rates of high school completion and employment than all young people in the general population; that 30 percent of 19-to-21-year-olds who had been in foster care reported experiencing homelessness; and that in more than a third of states, fewer than half of African Americans who had transitioned out of foster care had earned their high school diploma or GED by age 21.
Fewer than half of African American former foster kids were employed by age 21. According to the brief, in about half the states, African-American youth were more than three times more likely to be in foster care than their white peers.
The brief highlights three areas of particular concern: the relationships, resources, and opportunities youth in foster care need to become successful adults. The analysis found that half of teens age 16 and older who left foster care did so without being reunited or connected with a family through adoption or legal guardianship, with higher rates among African-American and Latino teens. A third of former foster care youth had been placed in foster care multiple times; and a third had been in a group home or institutional placement during their most recent stay in foster care.
Despite the fact that all states receive federal funds to help young people transition from foster care to adulthood, fewer than a quarter of youth who received federally funded transition services received services for employment, education, or housing.