7 Issues Facing Teens in Foster Care
Young adults who have been in foster care are more likely to experience mental health issues, homelessness, and poverty. They may not even know what their rights are as a child or how to advocate for themselves.
The following seven issues show the struggles that foster youth face:
Across multiple surveys at least 25% of former foster children report that they were neglected or abused while in care. This number can be as high as 40% in some surveys.
The abuse in the foster care system is a growing concern for many. There are many cases of abuse that are not reported at the time because the teens feel like they will be punished for reporting it.
The trauma that they experience can lead to mental illness, difficulty in forming relationships, and substance abuse.
2. Teen Pregnancy
Teens who are in foster care are more likely to become pregnant and have a child than those who are not. This is because they may lack support from their family and friends, as well as have a lack of knowledge about how to avoid pregnancies.
The National Center for Health Research states that teen pregnancy is a major issue in foster care with twice as many girls becoming pregnant before they turn 19 years old than those who are not in foster care.
3. Depression & Anxiety in Foster Care Youth
Entering the foster care system as a child or teen is an extremely traumatic event. Foster youth are often separated from their families, and many have experienced neglect, abuse, or violence.
Other factors such as living in a single-parent household, having a parent with a mental illness, or having parents who had been incarcerated are associated with increased risk of mental illness.
Depression in foster care youth is a common and serious mental health issue. The rate of anxiety and depression among teens in foster care is notably high with up to 80% of children in foster care experiencing anxiety disorder, depression, and other mental health issues before they turn 18.
It is important to note that the rates of mental illness in this group are much higher than their counterparts in the general population.
Source: National Conference for State Legislatures
Additionally, there is a growing number of teens with disabilities in foster care. The rate of children in foster care with marked to severe impairment is 35%.
4. Substance Abuse Among Teens
There are many factors that lead to substance abuse among teens in foster care.
Up to 90% of foster youth have experienced trauma and abuse in their lifetime. This can lead to mental health problems, which in turn can lead to substance abuse. 49% of foster youth reported that they had tried drugs. It is estimated that 35% of foster care children are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
The problem is complex and there are many factors that contribute to the addiction including mental health, peer pressure, and trauma. Foster care teens are often exposed to drugs at an early age because they live in an environment where drug use is prevalent. In addition, they often have poor coping skills which makes them more vulnerable to addiction.
Additionally, many children enter the foster care system due to parental substance abuse, which is a factor for some children becoming addicted themselves.
5. Family Instability Within the Child’s Early Years
Childhood is a crucial time for development. The family environment plays a major role in shaping the child’s personality and future. Children who grow up with instability in their family life are more likely to experience emotional and behavioral problems, get involved in criminal activities, or drop out of school. Kids who grow up in unstable homes are also at a higher risk of becoming homeless later on.
The idea of stability is not just about having two parents living in the same home. It’s about feeling that you belong somewhere, that you have a sense of belonging and attachment to your parents, siblings, extended family members, friends, community members and teachers.
Additionally, teens in foster care struggle to maintain connections as they repetitively lose friends and siblings as they move in and out of different foster homes and schools.
6. Lack of Financial Stability & Affordable Housing Options
It is important for teens in foster care to have a stable living situation. The lack of financial stability and affordable housing options for these teens can lead to many problems such as homelessness after aging out of the system.
Up to 65% of foster youth in some states age out of the system without a permanent home to return to when they turn 18. And more than 20% of teens in some states are homeless after they age out of the system.
This is because they don't have any family members that can take them in and provide them with a stable living situation. The lack of financial stability and affordable housing options for these teens makes it difficult for them to find a job and become financially independent when they age out of the system.
7. Education & Employment Opportunities
The majority of teens in foster care have never had access to a computer before they are placed with a foster family. The lack of access to technology and the internet can be an obstacle for teens in foster care when it comes to their education and employment opportunities.
Only half of these teens graduate high school, and only 3% graduate from college.
Mentor a Teen or Donate
Studies show that teens in foster care are less likely to graduate from high school, more likely to live in poverty, and more likely to be incarcerated than their peers.
The best thing you can do for a teen in foster care is to become their mentor. Get involved by connecting with them on a regular basis and helping them with anything they need.
You can also donate money so that they have the resources they need to fulfill their academic and career potential.
Support us at Rezvan Foundation by becoming a mentor or donor and help these teens get the education they deserve!
Keywords: Foster Care, Foster Youth, Teens In Foster Care