FOSTERING YOUTH TRANSITIONS USING DATA TO DRIVE POLICY AND PRACTICE DECISIONS

In this first-of-its-kind report, the Annie E. Casey Foundation draws on a new source of national and state-level data to illustrate the experience of transitioning from foster care to adulthood. It is well established that for youth and young adults in foster care, solid connections to nurturing adults and stable communities often are disrupted by multiple home and school moves, academic challenges and a lack of permanent connections to family — only to face disproportionate levels of unemployment and homelessness as adults. What’s more, young people of color are far more likely to face barriers to success and well-being. It’s critical that all stakeholders understand the experiences of young people transitioning from foster care in America if outcomes are to improve. The stories behind these data further emphasize the need for policymaker engagement and guide steps to be taken to improve the well-being of young people in foster care. In its 17 years of working with child welfare leaders, policymakers and young people across the country, the Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative® has uncovered persistently stark data, including these new findings: • Half of older teens who left foster care aged out versus being reunited or connected with a family. • A third have been removed from their home and placed in foster care multiple times. • Half have experienced three or more foster care placements. Using the Fostering Youth Transitions state profiles Each profile highlights a state’s key demographic data about young people in foster care that can be used to help pinpoint disparities across racial and ethnic lines. The profiles also show whether and how young people are accessing available resources, which can help leaders determine whether changes need to be made to ensure greater awareness of and accessibility to resources such as extended foster care. Readers should digest the data and ask how young people in foster care in their state are faring — and what more can be done to help ensure lifelong wellbeing and success. RELATIONSHIPS: How well is your state doing at ensuring young people have been connected to permanent families before they leave foster care? Can more be done to ensure connections for them to mentors and other supportive, caring adults? RESOURCES: How well is your state doing at ensuring young people are aware of available resources and services that provide a safety net and can help them achieve economic well-being? OPPORTUNITIES: How well is your state doing at ensuring young people are being given education, employment and other chances to learn and grow during what is a key developmental phase in their lives? -1- • A third experienced a group home or institutional placement during their most recent stay in foster care. • Less than a quarter of young people who received a federally funded transition service received services for employment, education or housing. (All states receive federal funds to help young people transition from foster care to adulthood.) These data illustrate the separation from family and instability these young people face in foster care. These experiences are tied to the negative outcomes they often face later upon transitioning to adulthood. The data clearly show how these young people are falling behind their peers. How we support the lives of young people in and transitioning from foster care has lifelong consequences, as


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