Too Many Kids Age Out of Foster Care Without a Permanent Family
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
A new report shows the number of people between the ages 14 to 21 in the foster-care system has dropped by about half over a 15-year period - and that the reasons they enter the system are evolving. Researchers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that in the Golden State, the percentage of kids entering foster care due to neglect went from 26% in 2006 to 66% in 2021.
Angela Vázquez with the Children's Partnership said, especially in a wealthy state such as California, neglect really means poverty.
"We are pulling young people into a system that is not trauma-informed because their families are poor and lack real access to the kinds of services they would need," she said.
The number of teens entering the system due to abuse went up 3 percentage points. And those entering due to behavior problems dropped from 45% to 11% over the same time period. There is some good news - the report also found a big drop in the use of group homes and in runaways, and a greater emphasis on placement with foster families, with relatives, and with supervised independent living.
The state offers life-skills training, vocational training, mentoring and housing assistance to help with the transition to adulthood.
But Todd Lloyd, with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said only 57% of foster kids older than 14 receive those services. And only 24% are still in the system at age 19.
"We really encourage states to consider ways that they can encourage young people to remain in foster care after the age of 18 If they don't have a permanent family," Lloyd said. "But we've seen nationally that the utilization of extended foster care after the age of 18 is actually very low."
Data show that in 2020, only 26% of foster kids in California exited the system because they found a permanent home - and 70% left when they became emancipated or aged out.
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