Transition into the adult world and the self-sufficiency it requires is extraordinarily challenging for the young ones, especially for kids who grow up under the foster care system.
Approximately 200,000 kids age out of the foster care system each year in the United States. They are released from the care of their foster families and institutions at the age of 18, whether or not they are prepared to begin their journey into the adult world or not. With very little to no family support, these young adults have no choice but to learn how to navigate into the complex adult system.
Transitioning into adulthood
A transition is a time of change. A foster child’s success in transitioning into the adult world has a great impact on their future endeavors as well as every aspect of their adult life.
During this time, these young adults are still in the process of realizing who they are, and what they want to be. Plus, they are learning new skills and trying to take on grown-up responsibilities while adjusting into their new world.
Living on one’s own is quite demanding as it involves a lot of responsibilities such as searching for affordable housing, looking for a decent job plus taking care of expenses in order to survive. According to surveys, a huge percentage of young adults today are relying on their parents for social and financial support until their mid-20s. Plus, most college students rely on their parent’s health insurance until the age of 26. Sadly, this option is not available for foster kids as they are obliged to continue with their journey without the guidance of their parents.
65% of youths who age out of the foster care system are released by their foster families without a place to live in. As a result,
40% of these young adult fosters are most likely to end up homeless a year after they were released from the foster care system.
With lack of skills, foster adults find it hard to find a job and support their wants and needs. Plus, with the absence of a family to support them, they have no place to go to.
Landing a job
Landing a job is an important factor in determining a foster youth’s ability to seize economic security. However, finding a good paying job is a huge challenge for foster youths. For those who are lucky enough to be employed, they are given minimal hours and are more likely to earn less compared to their peers. At the age 18 to 24, they usually earn around $8000 a year, which is less than what most adults their age earn. On the other hand,
51% of these foster adults are unemployed.
Foster youths are more likely to be pregnant before the age of 21.
84% of female foster youths become parents before the age of 21.
With the absence of a good paying job and a family to help them out, their children are exposed to a repeated cycle of abuse and neglect.
Studies and experience tells us that having support from at least one adult could have a huge difference in the life of a vulnerable youth. Knowing that someone is there to love and care for them could be a driving force to keep them motivated and thrive.
Just like any other kids, foster kids are also in need of a support system (safety net) which allows them to make mistakes and a family to welcome them back whenever they are ready to move forward and start again.
A huge percentage of foster care youths have been incarcerated or have been in contact with law enforcement during the first few years of being released from the foster care system.
According to a study which was done by Arrow Child and Family Agency, an international child placement agency,
66% of young adults who have aged out of the foster care system will be homeless, imprisoned or die a year after being released from the system.
On the other hand, 35% are arrested while living with their foster families.
In addition to the figures stated above, the agency has revealed that
80% of the adults in prison were once enrolled in the foster care.
Plus, 60% of most males who aged out of the foster care system are convicted of a crime by the age of 24.
Suffering from abuse at such a young age, this could have an effect on the child’s behavior; thus, translating to violent behavior as they age.
One study revealed that more than half of these inmates were charged for crimes against people. Plus, approximately 22,000 inmates were serving life sentence with the possibility of parole; while around 3,700 of which were serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.
According to the National Association of Social Workers, 20% of children who live in runaway shelters came from foster care.
They also revealed that children who were placed in home care were more likely to develop drug and alcohol problems.
Having these results, it suggests that foster youths are leaving the foster care system unprepared. Oftentimes, they lack the necessary skills and knowledge in order to survive and live on their own. These skills are crucial in securing and maintaining a job, which could give them a sense of security.
The majority of young adults who were once entered in the foster care system are branded with a negative image. We have to do something in order to change this.
Being a victim of abuse and neglect, these kids are facing burdens that they cannot handle. By showering them with love and understanding, we’ll be able to reduce their pain and welcome them to a brighter future.
You don’t have to be rich in order to make a difference in the lives of these foster kids. If you don’t have much to give, your time would be more than enough to make these kids feel loved and appreciated. So, volunteer today and be a blessing to these foster kids tomorrow.