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NH Youth Face Barriers Leaving Foster Care

Older foster youth have lower rates of permanent placements with families in New Hampshire than in other states. (JUrban/Pixabay)
Older foster youth have lower rates of permanent placements with families in New Hampshire than in other states. (JUrban/Pixabay)
November 19, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire could be doing more to help young people in foster care transition to adult life, according to a new report. The Annie E. Casey Foundation says young people transitioning out of foster care lag behind their peers in educational attainment, employment and secure housing.

In New Hampshire, the graduation rate for young people aging out of foster care is similar to the rest of the country, but they fare worse in finding jobs and stable housing. Leslie Gross, director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, said placing a greater number of older foster youth in permanent homes - ideally with families - is critical.

"We need to ensure that young people are growing up in families,” Gross said. “This really means supporting biological families so that young people can stay at home; and if they have to be in care, policies that support young people, as well as foster families who are willing to care for older youth."

The report said 18 percent of transition-age youth in New Hampshire who secure a permanent home end up in a family-based placement, a figure that's low compared to 47 percent nationwide. Gross said she sees how important it is for older foster youth to have stable, dependable adults in their lives.

"The one thing that I hear repeatedly, from all of the young people around the country that we work with, is that they need someone to rely on no matter what,” she said. “Young people need permanent adult connections. We really have to do better."

The report emphasized the need for state laws and policies that make finding permanent placements and families for teens in foster care an urgent priority.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - NH