Who Are the Children?
Thousands of children in North Carolina enter the foster care system each year, and range in age from infants to 18 years old. All foster children have unique backgrounds, experiences, personalities, strengths and needs.
Some children in foster care require extensive care for physical or emotional handicaps and disabilities.
Some also require help with undisciplined and delinquent behaviors. Most foster children do not have a strong sense of belonging or self-worth. Many have been victims of physical or sexual abuse. All children who are in foster care require special care, support and nurturing.
Youth That Age Out of Foster Care
Young people transitioning out of the foster care system are significantly affected by the instability that accompanies long periods of out-of-home placement during childhood and adolescence. The experiences of these youth place them at a higher risk for unemployment, poor educational outcomes, health issues, early parenthood, long-term dependency on public assistance, increased rates of incarceration, and homelessness.
Approximately 20,000-25,000 young people age out of the foster care system each year; many without family or economic support (Allen, M. & Nixon, R., 2000). According to the 2000 Census, nearly 4 million people ages of 25-34 live with their parents due to economic realities--jobs are scarce, and housing is expensive.
Unfortunately, foster youth do not always have the option of turning to their families for support. Alone, these young people are confronting the harsh reality of the gap between the wages they earn and the cost of housing (White, R., 2003). As a result, youth aging out of the foster care system is becoming homeless at disconcerting rates. Anywhere from 12% to 36% of young people transitioning out of the system, experience homelessness (Cook, 1991; Courtney & Pilivian, 1998; Reilly, 2003). As many as 3 in 10 of the nation's homeless adults have a history in foster care (Roman & Wolfe, 1995). Young people aging out of public systems are confronted with critical housing needs that, left unaddressed, have the potential to cause irreparable harm.
~View The Facts~
It is known that an estimated 20,000 young people "age out" of foster care every year. Like most 18-21 year olds, they also continue to need support and services that biological families often provide, but this is rarely available to them. In fact, several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult environment, these older youth are often susceptible to a number of adverse conditions. Three out of ten of the nation's homeless are former foster children.
A study found that 12-18 months after leaving foster care:
27% males and 12% females end up in jail
37% had not finished high school
50% were unemployed
But, with transitional housing program assistance the statistics are:
54% nationally earned a high school diploma
51% became employed
Source: Child Welfare League Of America, National Data Analysis System