As the only nonprofit in Indiana empowering and supporting teens and young adults transitioning out of foster care, Foster Success has led the way for the past decade in providing the financial, educational and social support they need to succeed and become self-sufficient.
However, even as our organization celebrates 10 years of supporting teens and young adults with experience in foster care, we know there is still more to be done to support older foster youth.
Older foster youth – especially those who age out of the system without a permanent placement – are often forgotten. When people think about individuals in foster care, they often picture young children. The reality is that one in four individuals in foster care are above the age of 14 and are likely to turn 18 in foster care.
Those who turn 18 in foster care experience challenges that can set them back for years to come, including:
- 20% of former foster youth will experience homelessness within four years of leaving foster care;
- Unemployment and unstable employment at more than five times the rate of others;
- 80% of individuals in foster care experience mental health challenges (compared to 18-22% of the general population);
- 21.5% of individuals in foster care suffer from PTSD (compared to 4.5% of the general population and a rate equal to veterans).
Foster Success works every day to change the outcome for Indiana’s teens and young adults transitioning out of foster care.
So what can you do to give those aging out of the foster care system a better chance at leading a healthy, successful life?
Advocate for an increase in permanent federal fundingfor older foster youth services. Funding for many programs has not increased since 1999, when it was established, or 2008, when the Fostering Transitions Act was instituted.
Encourage those who turn 18 in foster care to stay engaged in extended foster care and/or connect with other support services and organizations like Foster Success.
Invest in our young people. By supporting organizations like Foster Success, you are investing and changing the future of young adults in your community.
Dr. Maggie Stevens is the President & CEO of Foster Success, an Indiana-based nonprofit that provides financial, educational and social support to foster care youth at a most critical time – when they are about to or have already transitioned out of the foster care system, most often with no family or economic support. More information about Foster Success can be found at www.fostersuccess.org.