Not much has changed. A look at the outcomes of foster youth aging out.
Children that age out of foster care lack the support systems and stability that other children have. Decades of reports show startling risks associated with aging out, and even though this information has been known for decades, there has not been many efforts to improve outcomes for foster youth. Let’s just go back a couple of decades for the sake of not making this too long.
Back in 2008, it was reported that around 20,000 children would age out of foster care. 71% of female foster children would become pregnant before they turned 21, 1 in 5 foster children would become homeless within 4 years of aging out, ½ would be unemployed at the age of 24, and less than 3% of foster children would ever graduate from college (Chaplin Hall).
In 2015, the Casey Family Foundation, the Department of Justice, and the Administration for Children reported that of 408,425 children in foster care, 50% of the females would become pregnant by the age of 19 years old, 74 % of former foster youth would go to prison, and that 50% of the incarcerated former foster children, 50% of them would be incarcerated within 2 years of aging out. Another startling fact that was reported was that 80% of the people on death row were raised in the foster care system.
In 2021, ACF reported that the number of children in foster care consistently decreased for three straight years. At the end of 2020 it was estimated that the number of children in foster care is around 407,000 children, with 117,000 children waiting to be adopted. (5,000 fewer children were “waiting to be adopted than in 2019). The states were able to sell around 58,000 children through the adoption industry in 2020, and admittedly black/African American children that only make 14 % of the population, accounted for 20 percent of the children entering the foster care system. American Indian and Native Alaskan children that makeup 1% of the child population accounted for more than 2% entering the horrid foster care system. Termination of parental rights fell from almost 71,900 to 63,800 from the previous year. 250,000 children exited foster care.
In 2022, states are finally asking themselves if they are supporting children. The states say that the goal is to provide safety and permanency for children. Is it happening? That is yet to be seen because the reports are usually two or three years behind the times. In 2018 states were given new guidelines through the Family First Preventative Services Act. To this day state agencies are having difficulties writing and implementing new policies that will produce better outcomes for the children.
Annie E. Casey Foundation’s key findings of the youth presently aging out of foster care include 1 in 5 foster children will experience homelessness between ages 17 and 19, 1 in 4 will be homeless between the ages of 19 to 21. That number jumps to 43% for American Indians, 1 in 5 will be incarcerated between ages 17–19 and 19–21. 1 in 10 will either father or give birth between ages 17–19, 70% of foster children will have a high school diploma or a GED when they age out. 57% report being employed at age 21. 4 in 10 foster children received academic assistance on 2018, mentoring 16%, financial assistance (15%).
Minding Hearts is building advocacy and peer support groups in each state. The groups are created to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those that might not otherwise be heard. We are here for encouragement, education, and support. We are here to support families and develop resources that maintain family integrity. We look forward to your support. If you would rather become active by donating, then visit the donation page.
ACF, (2022), Data and research, Administration of Children and Families, https://www.acf.hhs.gov/
Annie E. Casey Foundation, (2022), Child Welfare and Foster Care Statistics, https://www.aecf.org/blog/child-welfare-and-foster-care-statistics
Chapin Hall, (2008), A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime: Relational Permanence Among Young Adults with Foster Care Backgrounds, Study looks at social connections of youth aging out of foster care, Filed under: Statistics and Research, Foster Club, https://www.fosterclub.com/blog/statistics-and-research/study-looks-social-connections-youth-aging-out-foster-care
Children’s Home Society, (2019), What happens when kids age out of foster care?, https://chlss.org/blog/infographic-what-happens-when-kids-age-out-of-foster-care/
Misnazi, Ashley, (2022), Watch: Foster kids who age out of the system in Texas face new challenges as young adults, Texas Tribune, https://www.texastribune.org/2022/08/12/foster-kids-age-out/