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Trump 'fixer' Michael Cohen gets three years, and Trump calls him a liar. Also on the Thursday rundown: Higher smoking rates cause some states to fall in health rankings; and the Farm Bill helps wilderness areas.

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Report Focuses on Needs of NC Teens in Foster Care

Transition services, such as vocational training and housing assistance, can keep young people from becoming homeless as they move from foster care into adulthood. (Secure Teen)
Transition services, such as vocational training and housing assistance, can keep young people from becoming homeless as they move from foster care into adulthood. (Secure Teen)
November 16, 2018

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Experts say the instability of foster care often adds trauma to the lives of children in the system, with special challenges for older kids. A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation says the impact often leads to lower graduation rates, early parenting, homelessness and unemployment for youth age 14 and up.

The report focuses on the more than 3,500 teens in the North Carolina foster care system and how they're faring. Leslie Gross, director with the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, explains.

"The child welfare system was really not so much built for teenagers and so, we really need to use this data in the report to support policy and practice change," says Gross.

She says the report is intended to give policymakers a better understanding of the challenges of teens living in foster care, and what it takes to prepare them for life as they 'age out' of the system. That includes helping them graduate, and get stable housing and vocational training.

In North Carolina, 71 percent of young people in foster care earn a high school diploma, compared to 90 percent of the general teen population. Experts point to the trauma of abuse or neglect, as well as frequent moves, as barriers to their success.

Gross adds these outcomes have effects that last into adulthood.

"Young people who don't graduate from high school, that impacts their long-term earnings," says Gross. “Young people who experience homelessness – that impacts society, in terms of the costs of having to maintain shelter beds and other things like that."

Only 10 percent of North Carolina teens in foster care participate in education-related programs, and only 16 percent complete government-funded vocational programs.

Based in Winston-Salem, the group Youth in Transition works with young people aging out of foster care. Director Karon McKinney says caring relationships are key.

"They need to have relationships in the community with people who can move them forward, like any other teenager or young adult has in their families, and friends and community," says McKinney.

The report says solutions will require a greater investment in programs with proven records of equipping young people for future success. It is online at 'AECF.org.'

Antionette Kerr, Public News Service - NC