KY Foster Youth Transitioning into Adulthood Face Resources Gap
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Kentucky's former foster youth have a steeper climb into adulthood than their peers, according to new research.
Among 21-year-olds with foster-care histories, the data show 63% reported having stable housing, 64% said they have secure employment, and 16% reported being enrolled in college or tech school.
Former foster youth and a current member of the True Up Peer Network, Tia Humphrey, said long-term housing continues to be a challenge for young people beginning life as an adult without traditional support systems.
"A lot of these youth are falling short because they are not having permanent housing," said Humphrey. "And that's a major theme in their life - because of foster care, a lot of these youth are having housing instability. It takes a toll on their lives and their mental health, as well."
While the share of Kentuckians age 14 and older in foster care has decreased since 2006, this population still accounted for nearly one in three of the young people in care in 2021 - according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation report.
Carli Mosby-Smith - director of strategic initiatives with Kentucky Youth Advocates - pointed out that transition services are available for youth aging out of foster care, but gaps remain in the number of young people who use them.
"There are a lot of services out there and there are dollars tied to that," said Mosby-Smith. "We just need to make sure that young people know that those services are available and are able to access them without additional barriers."
Former foster youth and current True Up Peer Network member, Keisha Lyon - now a college student at the University of Louisville - said she believes the state should streamline funds directly into the pockets of these young people once they turn 18.
"A lot of resources and financial assistance that could be going to these foster youth," said Lyon, "are having to kind of be trickled down through these private care agencies."
There are more than 8,500 children in Kentucky's foster-care system, according to state data.
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