Did you know that we have over 400,000 children in the foster care system each day in the United States? It's appalling and most States are seeing spikes in the number of referrals they are getting this year, and it is estimated that by the end of the year 2015 we will have close to half a million children living in foster care.
What perhaps is even more astonishing than the pure volume of children living in care are the atrocious outcomes that face them once they age out of the foster care system. On average over 23,000 children age out of foster care each year. Meaning, they attained an age (18 in most states, but some have increased this number to 21) where they no longer have support systems in place.
Of those we who age out, less than 58% will graduate from high school. Only 3% will move on to college, with less than 1% actually graduating. 71% of the females aging out will be pregnant by 21 and nearly 95% of the males aging out will become imprisoned within 20 months of aging out. 1 in 4 experience PTSD.
The numbers go on and on. Former foster youth make on average 54% less than their peers, are disproportionately unemployed and using public assistance.
The numbers don’t lie, and we must understand them if we want to understand why we need to make significant changes to the foster care system, it is the breeding ground for all of our other social systems in this country.
There is no one agency, no one social worker, no one government, no one parent, or foster parent to blame for the state of our system. The truth is, we have all failed these children and we continue to fail them each day that we choose to do nothing.
There are solutions and organizations that are working hard to change these outcomes. For more information on dealing with children in trauma please check out the Adverse Childhood Experience Study (http://www.acestudy.org) This study shines significant light on the link between childhood trauma to long term social and health consequences.
If you have a study or organization that you would like me to take a look at, please contact me or leave a comment on this blog. I am specifically looking for any studies that relates to foster care and PTSD, an issue that I don’t think many have considered looking at yet. In the following posts I will be discussing some solutions that are working at various points around the country and profiling some interesting individuals who are doing incredible work.
As always you can contact me via my email at firstname.lastname@example.org , via any of my social media outlets or from my website www.garbagebagsuitcase.com.