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Data Reveals Rough Journey for Maryland's Foster Youths

Research shows that young adults who experienced foster care have worse outcomes than their peers in the general population across a variety of spectrums. (AnnieSpratt/Pixabay)
Research shows that young adults who experienced foster care have worse outcomes than their peers in the general population across a variety of spectrums. (AnnieSpratt/Pixabay)
November 21, 2018

BALTIMORE – New research uncovers the instability faced by Maryland youths in foster care, and the resulting negative outcomes experienced during their transition to adulthood.

Fostering Youth Transitions is a recently released data brief from The Annie E. Casey Foundation. It shows that moving in and out of foster care placements, unstable placement settings and leaving foster care without finding a permanent family can create barriers to well-being.

Leslie Gross is director of the foundation's Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, which works specifically to improve outcomes for foster youths ages 14-plus.

"It's just really challenging to turn 18, or even 21 in some places, and all of the sudden be left with nobody to rely on, nobody to support you in those things like finishing high school or applying to college, not having a job or necessarily a place to live,” she states. “So it kind of is that feeling of falling off a cliff."

The report notes these challenges are exacerbated by race, as young people of color enter the foster care system at higher rates than their white peers, and are more likely to experience three or more placements.

About 35 percent of Maryland children in foster care are ages 14 to 18.

African-American children and youths are over-represented in Maryland's foster care system at 65 percent, compared with whites at 23 percent and Latinos at 7 percent.

Gross says better data, policies and practices can give all foster youths their best shot at life.

"All young people – regardless of race, ethnicity or ZIP code – deserve the relationships, resources and opportunities to ensure their well-being and success,” she stresses. “And so we know that we must work with communities and other stakeholders to change what is happening for youths of color."

Foster youths in Maryland are more likely than their peers nationwide to have stable housing or obtain their high school diploma or GED by age 21.

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.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD