Remember when you moved out of your parents home, your first dorm room or apartment, first roomate, the thrill, the fears? Remember calling home for cooking help, laundry tips and money?
Unforunately, for many foster kids, this transition time is much more complicated. With no parents of family to fall back on, many end up on the streets homeless or in jail.
Of the kids who age out of the foster care system:
One in four will be incarcerated within the first two years after they leave the system.
Over one-fifth will become homeless at some time after age 18.3.
Approximately 58 percent had a high school degree at age 19, compared to 87 percent of a national comparison group of non-foster youth.
Of youth who aged out of foster care and are over the age of 25, less than 3 percent earned their college degrees, compared with 28 percent of the general population.
Statistics courtesy of www.fosterclub.com a website written specifically for kids in foster care.
I stumbled upon these statistics while doing research for a newletter for work. They are troubling, and what is even more troubling to me is I don't know what the answer is. The teenagers that I work with have very poor attendance at school. As staff, we try to motivate them to go to no avail. Homework hour is a regular part of the schedule. "The system" tries to leave them in the same schools when they are moved to different placements.
And yet, those things are just band-aids on the greater problem. They have other needs that have to be met before we can begin to think about these issues. The whole issue underscores for me the importance of family, the importance of parents and unconditional love.
A family is a powerful thing.