Aging Out an urgent concern
Each year, approximately 25,000 youth age out of the foster care system having never gained permanency with a family. Though the official term for aging out is emancipation, those who experience it are anything but “free”. These youth lack the support network that is so essential for an effective transition into adulthood.
Many foster youth who age out overcome the odds and achieve great success. However, as a broad group, their statistical prognosis is grim in comparison with the general population or even with youth adopted out of foster care as teenagers.
- Few attend college; fewer yet graduate.
- Higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse, criminal activity, and homelessness.
- Higher dependency upon public assistance.
- Higher likelihood to lose their own children to the system resulting in a new generational cycle of foster care.
The most effective deterrent to the negative consequences of aging out is achieving permanency. Permanency occurs through:
- Reunification with family
- Long-term guardianship