Foster children, hanging on the hopes of being helped by an adopting family, sometimes don’t get that desired dream.
Some — a good 25,000, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services — “age out of federally mandated child-welfare systems responsible for their care and then disappear into the general population to fend for themselves at an unfairly young age,” Pacific Standard reported.
So what happens to these children who age out?
Pacific Standard said that 31 percent of children who aged out were couch surfing or living without a home by the age of 26. And nearly 47 percent were unemployed, whereas the general U.S. unemployment rate hangs around 7 percent. The information comes from the Midwest Study, done by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
“For most young people, the transition to adulthood is a gradual process,” the study said. “Many continue to receive financial and emotional support from their parents or other family members well past age 18. This is in stark contrast to the situation confronting youth in foster care. Too old for the child welfare system, but often not yet prepared to live as independent young adults, the approximately 28,000 foster youth who ‘age out’ of care each year are expected to make it on their own long before the vast majority of their peers.”
The Deseret News reported on foster children in April of last year. Children who can’t find a family by the time they become an adult end up having issues outside of the home, and some don’t go to school, the Deseret News reported.
“The barrier is to get them to think they are worth it, that they can do it," Linzy Munger, associate director of Oregon-based A Family for Every Child, told the Deseret News. "They need help filling out applications. And when the dorms close for winter break, where are they going to go? ... We want to get kids into a permanent family. There's no time you reach a certain age and don't need family."
Some efforts have been made in recent days to find children homes. In Nashville, Tenn., 300 kids were presented in a conference at Fellowship Bible Church to bring the children closer to families who were looking to adopt, according to News Channel 5.
"Right now there [are] 254 kids in Tennessee whose parental rights have been terminated and they need homes," Marty Schwieterman with Fellowship Bible Church told a local Tennessee news station.
But if kids aren’t adopted, and they do “age out,” many might find their way to homeless shelters. And the conditions in those shelters aren’t always suitable. The New York Times recently reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning to remove 400 children and their families from “two city-owned homeless shelters that inspectors have repeatedly cited for deplorable conditions over the last decade.”
New York is looking to move its nearly 22,000 homeless children to better conditions, like subsidized or temporary shelters, the Times reported.
The mayor told the Times, “We just weren’t going to allow this to happen on our watch.”