Thursday, July 19, 2007

We Must Do Better

A cross post from my other blog, but it really belongs in both places:

If you have a while, read this report about Aging out of Foster Care. It was most disturbing. The one statisti that is most troubling for me is that since the beginning of the collection of statistics in 1998, the percentage of children aging out of foster care without a family has gradually increased. In 1998 the percentage was 3.1. By 2005, the last year that statistics have been processed, the percentage was 4.9.

To tell you the truth, I was shocked. With the addition of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 2007 I was hoping that statistics would have been reversed. But this is not the case. Instead, the percentage of kids aging out has grown.

We have to do better than this. We have to find families for children -- even the most disturbed ones --that will make that commitment to kids that they need, regardless of the behavior of the child. States need to provide assurance that families will not come to financial or social ruin if their children need residential treatment or congregate care. Because whether a teenager is living in a family setting or in a facility, they still need advocates.

We're doing our best, but statistics are showing that our best isn't good enough and we have to do better because statistics are so troubling. I quote from the article:

Many studies have documented that the outlook for foster youth who age out is often grim:

• One in four will be incarcerated within the first two years after they leave the system.

• Over one-fifth will become homeless at some time after age 18.

• Approximately 58 percent had a high school degree at age 19, compared to 87 percent of a national comparison group of non-foster youth.

• Of youth who aged out of foster care and are over the age of 25, less than 3 percent earned their college degrees5, compared with 28 percent of the general population.

It's a national issue and one that so few know about, but it affects every facet of our society. What more can you do? What more can I do? We all need to ask ourself that question.

No comments: