Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Aging Out of Foster Care
Comic strip courtesy of Mark Stivers at http://www.markstivers.com/
Every year, 20,000 of the 542,000 children in foster care nationwide "age out" of foster care and enter the adult world.
Most young adults in the general population rely upon their families for assistance with a place to live, financial support and other guidance as they transition to adulthood.
Indeed, half of young adults ages 18-24 in the general population in the United States live at home with their parents, according Children's Rights.
Young people in foster care have already survived harsh circumstances, such as neglect, abuse and/or abandonment.
They are then expected to leave the foster care system and transition to the adult world, “without the knowledge, skills, experience, attitudes, habits, and relationships that will enable them to be productive and connected members of society.”
More often than not, teens in foster care are not equipped to find gainful employment. Many have untreated physical and mental health needs, and no health insurance. Most have no housing options. Some have no immigration status.
Speaking personally, I didn't know how to cook when I aged out of foster care. I had no medical insurance. It was only after finishing both college and graduate school that I bought my first car and, with the help of a friend, taught myself how to drive.
Now, I want to do everything possible to assist foster youth with the transition of aging out of care.
I have another blog that focuses on many of the emotional challenges faced by foster care alumni: http://fostercareattachment.blogspot.com/
This blog is dedicated to practical life skills.