Together We Rise has asked me to conduct some research on foster care in New York State. Secondary research has revealed shocking statistics. In NYS alone, there are over 25,000 foster kids and every year thousands of young adults are discharged from (age out of) the foster youth system. In New York City, 1,100 young adults age out every year! Many of these individuals are ill-prepared to take on the world on their own. However, unlike many states, New York allows children to remain in the foster youth program until the age of 21, rather than aging out at eighteen. In addition, New York offers tuition waivers and assistance for students aging out of foster care.
Why do we, as a community, need to discuss aging out? Foster youth become some of the most vulnerable young adults. Forty to 63 percent of foster youth drop out of high school. Twenty-five to 55 percent of post-foster care young adults are unemployed and 31-42 percent end up in jail. We, as a culture, do not expect a child, under the best circumstances, to make the transition into adulthood without a few bumps and without assistance. Those aging out of foster care, many who have faced abuse, neglect, abandonment or other hardships, should not be expected to make this leap alone either.
Aging Out is an important issue across the nation because it affect more than 20,000 young adults across the nation each year. This issue is national and applies to every state in every corner of the United States. If this issue raises a lump in your throat or a bug in your brain start talking! Tweet, post, text, talk, email. Tell everyone you can because if there is no communication, there will never be a solution.