The chances of achieving adoption or permanent guardianship are much smaller the longer a youth has been in care. When youth no longer qualify for foster care as a result of reaching the age of 18, and have not achieved permanency, they are said to 'age out' of care.
National Statistics Indicate that...
- Each year between 20,000 and 30,000 youth "age out" of foster care, even though the total number of children and youth in care is decreasing
- More than 50% of foster youth drop out of high school
- More than 50% are unemployed for an extended period of time once they leave care
- If they are able to secure employment, their average earnings are a little over half of the general population the same age
The rate of arrests for males and the pregnancy rate for females soon after leaving foster care is shockingly higher than that of the general population
What FCR is doing to change this:
With statistics like this, IL youth who become emancipated from the dependency system face very low odds of achieving independence and living productive, positive lives. In response, Foster Care Review created the specialized Independent Living Review Program.
Our goal is to create a sustainable system to help assure Miami-Dade youth leave foster care with preparation and support for independent living. We hope to achieve goal by:
- Building the capacity of citizen review panels to carry out enhanced independent living review hearings
- Training our designated IL panels on independent living issues so they can better advocate for transitioning youth at reviews
- Collecting data at reviews that can be used to address systemic issues
Foster Care Review has not stopped at holding specialized review hearings for youth in foster care. We constantly strive to learn more and do more.
Currently underway is FCR's Advocacy Initiative. With funding from The Miami Foundation and from the Paul Palank Memorial Foundation, FCR has trained some of our experienced volunteers to go the 'extra mile' for youth in care. Due to the way the normal review process is structured, an order is not revisited for compliance unless an issue has been identified that poses an immediate risk of safety or harm. This is just too long to wait in the case of youth over the age of 16 who needs intensive preparation for Independent Living. Under this project, volunteers begin to contact the youth's foster care agency about the status of the order shortly after a case review has been completed. We have had very positive results with this process and hope to extend it to all youth whose cases we review.
Recently, FCR completed Administrative Reviews of 25 Young Adults Who Had Recently Aged Out of Care. Our local foster care community has recognized the struggles of youth exiting care, and in recent years there have been improvements in the way youth are prepared for independent living. For FCR, however, the information about their welfare ends once they age out, as they are no longer under the jurisdiction of the court or subject to our judicial reviews. Therefore, with the goal of learning whether or not our community's efforts are actually helping the youth, FCR received a grant award from The Miami Foundation that allowed us to interview transitioning youth about their experiences with life after foster care. The report is now available.
Final Report on Foster Care Review's Independent Living/Administrative Review Project; Conversations with youth who have transitioned from foster care.