Report Examines Foster Youths' Transitions to Adulthood
Monday, May 15, 2023
The number of foster youths near adulthood has dropped slightly in Washington state, according to a new report.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation looked at the transition period for young adults in foster care and found the number of young Washingtonians age 14 and up dropped from 23% in 2006 to 22% in 2021.
Nevaeh Brewer was part of the foster-care system, and now coaches foster youths who are transitioning into adulthood as a launch success coach with the Washington state-based organization Treehouse.
She said leaving the system is often the first time foster youths have anything of their own.
"In foster care, you don't even have your own bed, and the clothes that you get often are hand-me-downs," said Brewer. "So this is the first time being on your own completely and having everything and nothing all at the same time."
Brewer and Treehouse provide guidance for people in or coming out of foster care, including helping them find housing and get jobs.
Todd Lloyd, a senior policy associate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said youths are going to foster care for different reasons than they did in 2006.
"In the past, young people were coming in for foster care for reasons of adolescent behavior, child behavior problems," said Lloyd. "But now there's more of a shift towards them entering care for reasons of neglect, which are often connected to issues of poverty."
In 2006, neglect was the entry reason for 21% of Washington kids. In 2021, that number jumped to 57%.
Brewer said the state and federal governments could provide more resources to young adults coming out of foster care, including extended scholarships for higher education.
Just as important are some of the skills she's able to provide that they may not have received growing up, such as budgeting.
"Not in the sense of, like, 'Put away this amount of money every paycheck' because that's a privilege, but more in the sense of financial literacy and empowerment and understanding where they are and how to get where they want to be," said Brewer. "As well as understanding that it's OK to not be OK."
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