How many of us would do well with no long term relationships, friends to fall
back on, a family (even a very troubled family) to turn to when life kicked us
in the stomach?
NYT article http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/us/07foster.htmlrecaps the
terrible data that we all know and have been unable to fix for many years.
Why the gangs flourish, schools fail, streets become unsafe & preteen girls give
The last study showed 80% of youth aging out of foster care leading
Blaming children for being born into dysfunctional families would not be a
stated public policy, but I have found it to be de facto public policy. Former
Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz has stated that â€œ90% of the youth in
juvenile justice have come through the child protection systemâ€.
Every child deserves a chance to obtain the skills necessary to lead a
It is a much better investment to grow a child than it is a convict, a preteen
mother, or an unstable person. Study Finds More Woes Following Foster Care
By ERIK ECKHOLM
Published: April 6, 2010
Only half the youths who had turned 18 and â€œaged outâ€ of foster care were
employed by their mid-20s. Six in 10 men had been convicted of a crime, and
three in four women, many of them with children of their own, were receiving
some form of public assistance. Only six in 100 had completed even a community
Phil Sussman for The New York Times
Cameron Anderson, 21, who went through several foster homes, completed homework
in Tampa, Fla.
Times Topic: Foster Care
The dismal outlook for youths who are thrust into a shaky adulthood from the
foster care system â€” now numbering some 30,000 annually â€” has been documented
with new precision by a long-term study released Wednesday, the largest to
follow such children over many years.
Researchers studied the outcomes for 602 youths in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin,
and compared them with their peers who had not been in foster care. Most youths
had entered the foster care system in their early teens and then were required
to leave it at 18 or, in the case of Illinois, 21.
â€œWe took them away from their parents on the assumption that we as a society
would do a better job of raising them,â€ said Mark Courtney, a social work
researcher at the University of Washington who led the study with colleagues
from the Partners for Our Children program at Washington and the Chapin Hall
center at the University of Chicago. â€œWeâ€™ve invested a lot money and time in
their care, and by many measures theyâ€™re still doing very poorly.â€
Over the last decade, the federal government and many states have started to
assist former foster care youths with education grants, temporary housing
subsidies and, in some places, extra years of state custody and support. The new
data showed that just over half of them are doing reasonably well and benefit
from such aid. But they throw a spotlight, researchers said, on two groups that
need more sweeping and lasting help.
About one-fourth of the people in the study, mainly women, are receiving public
aid and struggling to raise their own children, usually without a high school
degree. Researchers found that one in five in a second group, mainly men, are
badly floundering, with multiple criminal convictions, low education and incomes
and, often, mental health or substance abuse problems.
Once they leave foster care, these most troubled youths often have no reliable
adults to advise them or provide emotional support, said Gary Stangler, director
of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, a private foundation. â€œWhen
these kids make a mistake, itâ€™s life altering, they have nothing to fall back
on,â€ Mr. Stangler said.
Finding a mentor who provides â€œthat backbone you needâ€ has made all the
difference, said Cameron Anderson, 21, of Tampa, Fla., who entered foster care
at 15 after he got into trouble with the law, then lived in group homes.
Mr. Anderson, who is now in community college and works at a printer cartridge
company, receives education and other financial aid that has helped him keep an
apartment. But he has made some missteps since moving out on his own, he said,
like not paying bills in full so he could buy shoes and hanging out with old
friends who were bad influences.
Last fall, he was introduced to a mentor, an investor in Tampa, by a Casey
program, Connected by 25. The two now speak daily, Mr. Anderson said, discussing
â€œschool and life in general, even to the point where heâ€™ll say, â€˜Hey, are you
using protection?â€™ â€
Had he had such a relationship earlier, Mr. Anderson said, â€œit would have saved
me from a ton of bridges Iâ€™ve had to cross.â€
While younger children are often adopted when their parentsâ€™ rights are
terminated, fewer prospective parents want to adopt teenagers. Recent research,
including the new study, shows that most foster children, even though they have
been removed from their homes, maintain ties with a parent or other relative.
Some agencies are trying to support such ties or to locate relatives who might
adopt the children or provide long-term support.
Illinois, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia now allow youths to
remain in foster care to age 21, and some states help with transitional housing.
Congress in 2008 passed a law providing matching money to states that extend
foster care to age 21, something that the authors of the study call for. But in
the face of large budget deficits, few states have signed on so far.
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