Shelia listens to her classmates who are chattering on excitedly about the graduation ceremony next week. One of them has already been accepted into a major university. Another is “considering his options” but has multiple acceptance offers on the table. Another plans to work for a year and attend community college. They all have plans.
Shelia turns 18 next month and is one of 24,000 foster care children who “age out” of the system each year in America. She was never adopted and with six other mouths to feed, her adoptive family will be happy for Shelia to move on and find her own way in the world.
She made decent grades in school and probably would have been accepted into a local university. But none of this matters because she couldn’t even afford the application fee, let alone the monthly loan payments.
She has no job. No car. No way of supporting herself.
At least she has a high school diploma. Roughly 30-50% of foster care youth who exit the system, don’t even have that.
Her future is pretty bleak. Only 2% of foster care youth complete a bachelor’s degree before they turn 25, compared with 24% in the general population. (Forever Family)
According to statistics provided by Forever Family, within 2-4 years of leaving foster care:
- 40% were homeless
- 40% were receiving public assistance or were incarcerated
- 40% experienced drug or alcohol abuse
- 46% had not finished high school
- 51% were unemployed
- 84% became parents
How can you help?
You can make a difference, but providing support to organizations such as Pawsitive Kidnections who seek to improve the lives of foster care kids. Help them dream their dreams and see that they have a future!
Give a foster child an opportunity to make a new canine friend this month! Be it a therapy dog or shelter animal, these interactions are often life changing
For Further Reading
- Nelson, L. (2018). Foster care youth graduate at low rates. News from Our Heart. http://foster-care-newsletter.com/foster-youth-graduate-at-low-rates/#.XPVpZYhKg2w
- Forever Family (2019). What is aging out of foster care? Forever Family. https://www.foreverfamily.org/aging-out-of-foster-care