Presented For: The Rezvan Foundation
Currently in the United States, there are approximately 400,000 children in the foster care system. California is specifically responsible for over 50,000 of these children. While children can be placed in foster care for a variety of reasons, their need for support and care remains the same.
While individual agencies and the families that adopt or foster children are doing important work to the best of their abilities, they still require assistance to ensure the best possible outcome for each child. While not every family is able to adopt or foster a child, there are still a variety of things you can do to help children in the foster care system. We’ve outlined a few tips that you can use to support children in your community.
Here at the Rezvan Foundation, we are dedicated to supporting the academic pursuits of exceptionally talented young students who grew up orphaned or in foster care. In fact, our organization awards up to $100,000 per recipient in college scholarship funding to graduating high school students who, in spite of formative years filled with significant hardships, have shown a determination to succeed and a desire to be of service to others. To learn more about the Rezvan Foundation, and to make a donation, click here.
What Happens to Foster Youth When They Turn 18?
On average, 23,000 children age out of the foster care system every year. When they turn 18, they will be let loose by the system and forced to live on their own. But what exactly does this mean for the child?
Foster kids who leave the system will automatically lose every type of support that they have had for years, including both financial and emotional support. This can result in all sorts of issues. In fact, statistics show that less than 3% of children who have aged out of foster care will earn a college degree by 26, greatly affecting their ability to find a good job and support themselves.
1. 20% Will Become Homeless
Children who leave foster care will no longer have a place to live, forcibly removed from the place that they called home. They will be pushed out of their foster home or residential institution. What’s more is that many have never learned basic life skills since they’ve been shuffled from place to place. So, they may not have the resources to find the assistance to get off the streets.
2. Without Resources, Many Will End in the Sex Trade
Without a college degree and with low employment options, many young women may end up in the sex trade. In fact, 60% who age out of the system will turn to the sex industry. They also become easy targets for sex traffickers since they lack support systems and are seeking someone to protect them. Plus, many of the young women in foster care were sex trafficked as children.
The result is that 70% of the women who age out of the foster care system end up pregnant by 21. Since these women cannot support their own children, more than likely these kids will also be sent to the foster system, enforcing this never-ending cycle.
3. Suffering from PTSD
Children in the foster care system have probably been dealing with mental health issues for a long time. They were more than likely sent to foster care due to family problems or other issues that made it impossible for them to have anything resembling a normal life. Some were even taken away from their parents due to abuse. This affected their stability and ability to get schoolwork done. Plus, the foster care system itself can be traumatizing.
Now, they have aged out of the system and are alone. According to NFYI, 25% of these children suffer from some form of PTSD. This can lead them to make questionable choices that affect their overall health and job prospects. In fact, only 50% of kids who have aged out of foster care find employment by the age of 24. And those that do find work often only work in low-paying jobs since they don’t have a lot of education, meaning they lack the qualifications for higher-paying options.
This can often lead to additional depression and acting out. This leaves them open to drug abuse as well as victimization. If you look at the general population, only about 18% to 22% of children have mental health issues. 80% of foster youth, however, suffer from mental health concerns.
4. Many End Up Incarcerated
Without a comprehensive support system, PTSD, and lack of financial funds, 25% of foster kids who have aged out of the system will end up in jail. The statistics are even worse for children who grew up in group homes. They’re two and half times more likely to be incarcerated. Children who had multiple foster placements – five or more – have a 90% chance of being incarcerated. Children of color also have a higher chance of ending up incarcerated.
There are many negative connotations to being a “foster kid”. Most people already believe that these children are more dangerous than the average youth and will treat them that way. This makes foster children more likely to lash out and be seen as bad and needing to be punished.
Ongoing support is the only way to ensure that children who age out of foster care lead successful, healthy lives.
What Can Be Done
The foster system isn’t really designed to be a place to help children achieve higher education and job placement goals. Many will fall through the cracks and end up in jail or with other issues. But there are organizations that wish to prevent this from happening and help them find more productive ways to live in society.
At the Rezvan Foundation, we help foster children achieve their higher education goals. Our organization grants individual college scholarship awards throughout the country and provides one-on-one mentorship support. We work to break the foster care to jail or risky behaviors cycle and make a difference in their lives.
Learn more about our program. Subscribe to our newsletter today, or donate now. Help us help foster care youth achieve their dreams!
Keywords: Foster Care, Foster Care System, Foster Kids, Aged Out Of The System
6 Things to Know About Foster Care in the U.S.
The system of foster care in the United States is one that has been in place for a long time. However, it is not without its flaws. Foster care is often a last resort for many children who have been abandoned, neglected, or abused and their parents are unable to take care of them.
The U.S has a large number of children in the foster care system. In 2016, there were over 400,000 children in the foster care system, but this number has been increasing and it is expected to continue to grow as more children come into contact with social services agencies due to economic pressures on families and other factors such as substance abuse.
1. What is Foster Care?
Foster care is the temporary care of children who are not related to or living with their parents. The goal of foster care is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children until it is safe for them to return home or be adopted. Foster care can also be used as a type of intervention for parents who have violated certain laws, such as drug abuse, child neglect, and so on.
The foster system in the United States can be broken down into three different types:
2. Types of Foster Care
Public Agency Foster Care
Public agency foster care is a system where the government pays for the care of children who have been removed from their homes by social service agencies.
Public agency foster care is often used when the child’s parents are unable to take care of them due to some form of abuse, neglect, or mental health issues.
Private Agency Foster Care
These agencies are privately owned and operated by individuals who are licensed through the state. Private agencies provide a range of services to children, families, and communities. They may be linked to an adoption agency or they may be independent.
Private agencies are responsible for recruiting, screening and training foster parents as well as providing ongoing support to them. They also work with birth parents, adoptive parents, and other professionals in the community to find permanent homes for children that they have placed in foster care.
Private agencies are often more expensive than other forms of foster care.
Independent (or Kinship) Placement
Independent placement is when a child is placed with a family member or close friend who has no relation to the child by blood. This type of foster care is usually used when there are no relatives or friends to take care of the child, or if there are but they cannot take care of the child for some reason.
The goal of this type of placement is to keep the child close to their extended family and community.
3. What Are The Risks Associated With Foster Care?
There are many benefits to being in foster care, but there are also risks.
The first risk is emotional trauma. Many kids who go into foster care have had a rough life and the experience can be hard on them emotionally. They may have been abused or neglected by their parents, and the experience of being in foster care can be tough for them as well.
Another risk is physical safety. Foster kids may not have the same access to food or healthcare as other people, which can lead to illness or injury that would not happen if they were living with their biological parents.
For more risks associated with foster care, check out our blog post on 7 issues facing teens in foster care.
4. What Does it Take to Become a Foster Parent
Becoming a foster parent is not an easy task. It takes a lot of time, patience and the willingness to care for children who are not your own.
In order to become a foster parent, you must be at least 21 years old and you need to go through a screening process which includes:
-A home study with social workers and other professionals
-A criminal background check
-A drug test
-Interview with the Department of Social Services (DSS)
-Training on how to care for foster children and what is expected of them
If you are interested in becoming a foster parent visit the website www.fostercareamerica.org
5. Foster Care's Biggest Problems
The foster care system in the U.S. is a fragmented system that is overseen by different levels of government. This makes it difficult for the system to be efficient and effective because there is no one set of guidelines for all states.
The system is not designed to help children in the long term and instead focuses on short-term solutions, which are not sustainable.
Some of the biggest problems with the foster care system are:
- Lack of resources for children with disabilities
- Children aging out of foster care without a family
- Lack of support for young adults aging out of the foster care system
- Inappropriate placements and lack of safety for children
There are many ways to solve this problem: increasing public awareness for adoption, providing better protection for foster families and more financial support for them, and creating more opportunities for people to become foster parents.
6. Common Misconceptions About Foster Care
Some people mistakenly believe that foster care is a way to punish children, when in reality it is a way for the state to take care of children who are in need of protection. Foster care is not a punishment; it's an intervention.
Foster care is not just for abused or neglected children. It can also be used as a resource for children who have disabilities or special needs. In these cases, parents may be unable to provide the necessary care and attention that these types of children need.
Other misconceptions about foster care are based on the myths that foster parents are not qualified, foster parents cannot adopt the child, and that children in foster care are not well taken care of. These are general assumptions, and their truth varies per foster home and child.
How to Support Your Local Foster Care Agencies and Make a Difference for Kids Today
The American foster care system is in need of support. We can all make a difference by donating our time, money, or supplies.
Support us at Rezvan Foundation and help teenagers in foster care obtain the education they deserve by becoming a mentor or donor today!
Keywords: Foster Care In The US, What Is Foster Care, Foster Care, Foster Care System
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