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After Foster Care, Young Adults Struggle During Pandemic

In a new survey, about 40% of young adults who've aged out of the foster care system said they don't have anywhere to live during the COVID-19 crisis. (Adobe Stock)
In a new survey, about 40% of young adults who've aged out of the foster care system said they don't have anywhere to live during the COVID-19 crisis. (Adobe Stock)
April 10, 2020

CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- Young adults aging out of foster care in the U.S. have been thrown into crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report.

Many don't have family to rely on as they face the dangers of homelessness, food insecurity and mental health issues.

Celeste Bodner is executive director of the FosterClub, a national network for young adults out of foster care that ran the study through Facebook and email. According to Bodner, foster youth in college have been hit especially hard as schools began to close, leaving them without a childhood home to return to.

"Last week, we found among 18-to-24-year-olds, that housing instability surfaced right away," says Bodner. "Since the start of the crisis, about 40% have already been forced to move or fear losing their housing."

The report also found almost 30% of foster young adults surveyed said they don't have enough to eat, and about a quarter said they "have no emotional support," at a time they need more reassurance than ever.

The FosterClub website includes some foster youth resources.

Bodner explains that West Virginia's foster young adults are particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. She says the child welfare system in the Mountain State is already strained from an explosion of foster youth as a result of the opioid crisis.

"The fear that national advocates have is that this could potentially create a surge or a tidal wave of new cases coming into the system," says Bodner, "and overstretch an already stretched child welfare system in West Virginia."

The study also finds that more than 25% of the young people surveyed have lost their jobs and almost 40% have had their work hours cut.

In 2017, more than 17,000 young people in the U.S. aged out of foster care without permanent families.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - WV