Why Foster Care?

In the United States, there are almost 500,000 children in foster care. 100,00 of those kids are legally free and waiting for an adoptive home.[1] Every year over 23,000 kids age out of the system - and 20% of those kids will become instantly homeless.[2]

  • 7 out of 10 girls who age out of the system will become pregnant before the age of 21 [3]
  • 60% of sex trafficking victims came from foster care[4]
  • 80% of inmates on death row were in foster care[5]
  • Less than 3% of foster youth will attain a 4 year degree at any point in their life[6]

The Foster Care Crisis is real and it’s in your neighborhood. Unfortunately in our country, ignorance is bliss when it comes to these kids. They’re kept out of sight in our society. Things really need to change, because children aren’t meant to be ignored.

Notable Demographics in Foster Care

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Sex Trafficked Youth

The FBI estimates sex trafficking in the U.S. involves 100,000 children,

  • 60% of child sex trafficking victims recovered through FBI raids across the U.S. in 2013 were from foster care or group homes.

  • Experts have extrapolated that the average age for girls entering the sex trade is 12

  • The average age of children involved in prostitution when recovered by law enforcement is 14.

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Because of homophobia and transphobia in their homes, schools, and social settings, LGBTQ youth enter the foster care system at a disproportionate rate

  • The National Network of Runaway and Youth Services estimates that between 20-40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ.

  • One study found that 78% of LGBTQ youth were removed or ran away from their foster placements as a result of hostility toward their sexual orientation or gender identity

  • LGBT youth in foster care are less likely than other youth to find a permanent home, whether through reunification with their birth or kin families or through adoption.

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Teen Moms

Although teen pregnancy rates have been declining in the U.S. since 1990, teenage pregnancies among youth in foster care have reached epidemic levels.

  • Almost 20% of youth in foster care reported first having consensual sex before the age of 13.

  • Teenage girls in the foster care system are twice as likely to get pregnant before turning 19 than teenage girls who are not in foster care.

  • Half the children born to teen moms in foster care will end up in foster care themselves by their second birthday.

How you can help.

1. Become a Foster Parent

Click the “Getting Started” tab at the top of the page to find out how!

2. Become a Respite Provider

Maybe you can’t commit to becoming a full time foster parent, but you have a free weekend or evening a month. There are so many foster families who would love a break. Childcare is hard to find (especially for special needs kids), and having a regular person who would be willing to give foster parents a break is life-giving and can help prevent burnout.

3. Volunteer as a CASA

A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate. They advocate for children in foster care and give the judge their opinion of what’s best for the child. CASAs are absolutely necessary for children going through the system- especially if there’s high social worker turnover.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times we’ve had a new social worker show up to our kids court date, who hasn’t even met the kids, make huge decisions that will impact the rest of their life. A CASA is right there in the court room making sure the judge knows what’s really going on in the case. Their voice is so valuable and the judge really takes what they say seriously.

If you’re a CASA, you go through some training and a background check. You will then be assigned a child (or sibling group) that you will spend a few hours a month with. You will get to know their foster family, get to know their birth family, and talk with the social worker. When there’s a court date, you will go there with your findings and present them to the judge- giving your opinion on what’s best for the child.

4. Be a Mentor

With such high social worker turn over and with many kids frequently moving homes, being a mentor may make you one of the only stable people in a child’s life. It also allows foster parents to have a little scheduled respite while you’re spending time with the child. Look into Big Brothers Big Sisters or call your local department of family and youth services to see what mentor programs they have set up.

5. Volunteer at a local youth homeless shelter

With so few homes open to vulnerable demographics in care, many of them are living in a homeless youth shelter. Volunteering to help out with cooking, homework, or setting up activities can be huge for kids who are living a life in limbo.

6. Donate to nonprofits that benefit Foster Youth

I guarantee there are several awesome nonprofits in your state that support foster youth. If you need help sorting through them, feel free to shoot me a message and I’ll get back to you with some ideas.

Some nationwide ones I love are:

If you feel compelled to donate to a nonprofit, please take a moment and check out Charity Navigator to get an idea of how efficiently that nonprofit uses their donations.

+ Sources

  1. Petit, M. & Curtis, P., Child Abuse and Neglect: A Look at the States, 1997 CWLA Stat Book, Child Welfare League of America, Washington, D.C., 1997, p. 72, 124.

  2. Gaile , Brandon. “51 Useful Aging Out of Foster Care Statistics | Social Race Media -.” National Foster Youth Institute, 26 May 2017, www.nfyi.org/51-useful-aging-out-of-foster-care-statistics-social-race-media/.

  3. Dulmen, Manfred H. M. Van, and Haylee Deluca. “Former Foster Care Youth and Resilient Functioning in Young Adulthood.” Oxford Scholarship Online, 2017, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190260637.003.0043.

  4. “Finding and Stopping Child Sex Trafficking.” NPR, August 1, 2013.

  5. Annie E. Casey Foundation. (September 2, 2014). Economic Well-Being.

  6. Rita Soronen, “We are abandoning children in foster care,” CNN.com, April 16, 2014. Retrieved from www.cnn.com/2014/04/16/opinion/soronen-foster-children/index.html