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Embracing MN Foster Youth for Better Adult Outcomes

In 2017, 955 children were adopted from Minnesota's foster care system. (mnadopt.org)
In 2017, 955 children were adopted from Minnesota's foster care system. (mnadopt.org)
November 19, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota’s foster children who lose their support systems at age 18 often struggle with long-term success as adults, according to a new report.

The report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a first-of-its-kind data brief that shows why older youths and teens benefit from extended care.

Nationwide, 25 percent of children in the foster care population are age 14 and older, while in Minnesota it's 28 percent.

Leslie Gross, director of the Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, says compared with their peers, foster children are less likely to finish high school or become employed and more likely to experience homelessness, incarceration and early parenting.

"It's just really challenging to turn 18 or even 21 in some places and, all of a sudden, be left with nobody to rely on, nobody to support you in those things like finishing high school or applying to college, so it kind of is that feeling of falling off a cliff," she points out.

As of August, 1,700 children were under state guardianship, with 820 children in need of adoptive families immediately, and 900 were in pre-adoptive families, usually with relatives or foster parents who plan to adopt them.

The primary goal of foster care is reunification of the child with the family, and 70 percent of children in foster care are reunited with their birth families or adopted by relatives.

But Gross says in Minnesota, as in many other states, African-American children are disproportionately represented.

"Young people of color in over half of the states are three times more likely to be in care than their white counterparts,” she states. “They're more likely to have three or more placements while they're in care and they're more likely to transition out of care without a permanent family."

African-Americans represent just 5 percent of Minnesota's population, but children from those families represent 21 percent of the foster care population.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN