By Lavender Williams and Christine Murray
On any given day, there are approximately 428,000 youth in foster care in the US (Children’s Rights). This number changes frequently due to children being reunited with biological families, children being added daily and an often-forgotten circumstance, children aging out of care.
Simply put, if a child is not adopted or reunited with their biological family, they remain in the foster program until the age of 18. ‘Aging out’ places these young adults at risk of several adverse life circumstances such as substance abuse, homelessness and unemployment (National Foster Youth Institute).
Currently, there are 25 states that have opted to receive federal funding to support foster youth up to age 21 if the youth comply with several requirements, such as enrollment in an educational program or employment for 80 hours per month (National Conference of State Legislatures). However, many foster youths lack the knowledge and skills to comply with these requirements leaving them on their own to face the world and its harrowing demands.
Despite the challenges they may face, youth who age out of the foster care system can thrive, especially when they have access to supportive resources within their communities. It is possible for these young people to move successfully into adulthood, have a positive educational and career pathway, and build healthy families of their own one day. However, it’s important for community members and professionals who work with families to understand their experiences and consider ways to strengthen community supports to help them have a positive transition into adulthood.
In an effort to shine a light on this important topic, HRI is recognizing National Foster Care Awareness Month in May by partnering with Youth Villages and the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services Division of Social Services on an upcoming professional training on May 30th. To learn more about this training, please visit the Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/178061846329750/.
In addition, tomorrow, we’ll share some additional facts and figures, so stay tuned to learn more on this important topic!