Report Highlights Need for Extended Transition Services for Older Youths
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Teenagers and young adults in the foster care system in North Carolina and throughout the nation are not receiving sufficient services to successfully transition out of foster care.
According to a recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, less than half of those in transition receive the services they need to succeed during their eligible years, and only a quarter of them were served in 2021.
Meredith Yuckman, executive director of the Hope Center at Pullen in Raleigh, emphasized the importance of supportive relationships and relevant services for youths as they prepare to leave foster care and face obstacles such as homelessness at higher rates than their peers.
"One of the things that many of our youths are faced with nationwide, the estimates are between 40% and 60% of youths when they leave the foster-care system are in immediate need of housing," Yuckman pointed out. "By the age of 21, 40% of our youth has experienced homelessness."
Yuckman noted transitioning youths also face barriers in areas such as education, employment and mental health. The report showed of 21-year-olds who were in foster care, 79% of them earned a diploma or GED, compared with 92% of their peers in the general population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.
The report highlighted young people who spend time in extended foster care experience better outcomes than those who age out and live on their own.
Chantel Sherman, director of transition programs at the Hope Center, said she has also found it to be true in providing transitioning youths with essential services they need. One way she believes it is possible is through relationship building and partnerships.
"For us, that's making sure that we can build partnerships with stakeholders in the community that understand that there are young people in almost any community aging out of the foster care system who may need additional support, but they are ready and well capable of being employed and educated," Sherman stressed.
While foster care is down in North Carolina from 29% to 23%, Sherman argued extended services are essential for growth.
The Hope Center at Pullen said 100% of young people who use their services have received their high school diploma. In the last year, 83% found employment and 92% maintained their housing.
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