Too few lawmakers address foster youth aging out or the failed foster care system. Let’s fix it.

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A woman sits at the steps of the BC Legislature as hundreds of people, many youth who have aged out of foster care, rallied to ask for better support for youth aging out of care. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Someone sent information this morning that said “Youth speak out on ‘aging out’ of foster care; requesting extension on age limit”

Lane Ball out of Huntington Beach, West Virginia is developing a story with Nexstar about how foster care facilities push for the “aging out” limit to be extended. We hope that somewhere in the development that he realizes there is a financial incentive to keep children in state custody, and most importantly, we hope that Lane Ball reports how badly the foster care system is failing our most vulnerable youth. If Lane doesn’t “get it” and report it, you can bet that we will.

Young adults that age out of foster care often do not have familial ties to their own biological families. Sometimes it is because the family was so bad that the child could not be safe around any of them, but for the most part, about 90% of the time, the state severs a child’s ties with biological family members out of “respect” for the foster placement’s wishes.

It is most of the time too difficult for foster “parents” with very little training to integrate the new family with the biological family. The result is that children age out of foster care very often not knowing who they are or where they came from.

What makes it even worse for them is that throughout their lives in foster homes, they are about 80% of the time prescribed psychotropic drugs “to help them cope”. Once they age out, they no longer have access to their medicines.

Many will turn to street drugs and about 75% of the aged-out youth will end up in jail or prison within 2 years of aging out. It is reported that at least 1 in 7 foster children will fall into the hands of human sex traffickers. I think the number is higher because social workers are not required to report missing foster children. There are no amber alerts for them, and city reports show that between 60% to as high as 99% of children rescued in sex trafficking stings were in state custody before they were trafficked. Even the Department of State admits that the U.S. foster care system is a problem.

Less than 3% of foster children ever go to college and less than 2% will ever graduate. Foster placements simply fail to teach the vulnerable youth how to make it in this world and by the time they turn 18 and hit the road, they are ill prepared for what life throws at them.

Lane’s report today shows that lawmakers are taking notice. He says, “When someone ages out of foster care, it can be difficult adjusting to life as an adult. This past year, the federal government offered a safety net for individuals not quite ready to be on their own, but that will soon no longer be the case”.

“Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act”  created specifically to aid foster children during the Covid pandemic expires on September 30, 2021. Apparently, the Annie E. Casey Foundation is pushing for legislation that will support foster youth between the ages of 18 to 27-years-old.

Some CASA advocates as well as US Senators Sherrod Brown from Ohio, and  Shelly Moore Capito from West Virginia are taking notice and working on legislation that will provide support for foster youth that are aging out.

West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito stated, “Throughout my time representing West Virginians in Congress, I’ve consistently worked to deliver needed resources and support to our state’s foster children, and help improve West Virginia’s foster care system as a whole. As legislation is introduced, I’ll prioritize the well-being of those in foster care, regardless of their age, who were particularly hard hit by the pandemic”.

Senator Brown from Ohio said, “It’s critical that Congress act now and extend the moratorium on ‘aging out’ of foster care. Now more than ever – as we continue to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot afford to cut young Ohioans off from critical housing and support services. Every young person deserves a safe and stable place to call home”.

Other senators from other states do not seem to be concerned about foster youth until they realize that there is something in it for them, and there is now about $100 Billion ASFA 1997 dollars and the Trillions of dollars put out into communities through the American Rescue Plan, The Family First Act, the American Family Plan, and countless other Acts that have been made to increase access to quality healthcare and services. Hopefully lawmakers will get on the ball and help desperate, vulnerable foster youth that have no ties to family that can support them.

As Lane Ball develops his story, I hope he does he research well and reports the facts about how badly the state has failed our most vulnerable children that are now becoming young adults and being set free in this messed up world. Our prayers go out to them that God will clear the path and work with everyone’s Hearts and Minds to make each foster youth a successful member of society, hopefully by beginning before they age out not knowing what to do. We pray for people that care to make a powerful difference in their lives each and every day so that they can become the people that God created them to be.

I offer two solutions; (1) place children will family or someone that they already know and trusts so that their lives are not disrupted any more than it has to be, and (2) localize foster care so that youth do not end up in strange places with strange people far from where they no their way around. This will prevent children from being trafficked and provide more stability.

If you want to offer any solutions, please do so in the comment section. Thanks for reading. We look forward to hearing from you.  

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Patty

I love life and people. I am a daughter, mother, and a grandmother.

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