Aging Out of the Foster Care System
The foster care system is a state run temporary service that places children whose parents are currently unable to care for them in another home with approved adults until it is safe for them to return. The National Foster Youth Institute states that more than 23,000 youth age out of the foster care system every year in the United States. When youth age out of the system, at age 21 in Louisiana, they are often left on their own, lacking support, resources, and direction. Unfortunately, many of them end up facing homelessness. In fact, the U.S. Administration for Children and Families found that 26% of youth that age out of foster care in the United States experience homelessness at some point.
Throughout the Covenant House Federation, one third of the youth that arrive at our doors have been previously involved with the child welfare system. Whether they have aged out of foster care or received a poor placement, foster care involved youth have often experienced substantial trauma. On top of that, youth that age out of the system tend to experience higher rates of unemployment, involvement in the criminal justice system, and poverty as compared to individuals their age that are not involved in the child welfare system. Furthermore, one third of youth aging out of foster care do not have a high school diploma and a quarter lack health insurance.
“When I turned 18, I left and didn’t look back. I had no plan, no money, just a bag full of clothes and a will never to go back to my foster home.”