What Happens to California Children when they Age Out of Foster Care?
With the constant rise in drug addiction, child abuse, and neglect, more and more children find themselves taken out of their parents’ custody and sent to live with someone else. In many cases, children are placed with family members such as grandparents who can provide adequate care; however, there are still a large number of children who are put into foster care.
Currently, there are approximately 415,129 children in foster care. While the main goal of foster care is to reunite children with their biological parents, this is not always in the children’s best interests, but, sadly, there are not as many adoptions as there are children looking for homes.
Children Aging Out of Foster Care
Over 100,000 children are waiting to be adopted but there are not enough available adoptive families to go around. In 2014, 22,392 children “aged out” of foster care. This means that they became too old to stay in the foster system and are forced out on their own.
Leaving home and facing life alone is scary for any young adult, but it is especially frightening for unprepared foster children who have not been raised in a stable and supportive family environment.
A Not-So-Bright Future
The future for former foster children is not bright. Statistics suggest that, of those who age out of foster care, one in four will become homeless, 71% of young women will become pregnant by the time that they are twenty-one, and one in four will experience PTSD.
Only half of those who age out of foster care will have a job by the time they are twenty-four, and by the time they are twenty-six, only four percent will have earned a four-year degree from a college compared to thirty-six percent of their peers. When these foster care children age out of the system, they often look forward to jail and homelessness.
This shouldn’t happen to foster children, especially if there are willing couples eager to steer them to a bright future. Thankfully, foster care agencies like ChildNet Youth and Family Services are working to unite potential adoptive parents and foster care children around Los Angeles County and Riverside County. By providing these children with loving, supportive, and understanding families who will be alongside them as they transition into adulthood, their futures could be much brighter.
Statistics on Foster Care, FosterClub
Aging Out, Children’s Rights