Foster Youth: The Aging Out of the System

“In 2015, more than 20,000 young people — whom states failed to reunite with their families or place in permanent homes (“51 Useful Aging Out of Foster Care Statistics ”). It is evident that in the U.S. there is a shocking amount of young adults who age out of the child welfare system without a family who cares for them and no support. These adolescents are going out into the world with no money, no family, and no home. This sets the young adults up for failure due to not having the necessary tools to properly handle all of life’s tosses and turns. There are ways to aid the youth that are about to age out of the foster care get the necessary care that they need such as the child welfare system provide pre-adoption training, adoption assistance, or extending foster care past the age of 18. A solution needs to be found and quickly to assist the next generation of foster children who are about to age out of the system.

To begin with, becoming the age 18 should be a memorable time in a young adults life but for most youth that are about to age out of the foster care it is not so special. These teens are having to face being out on their own with no support of friends or family. Many of these young adults end up homeless due to not being able to support oneself. Adolescents that were formly in foster care are half as likely to pay their rent than their peers (“Challenges”). When the youth age out of the foster system they have nothing to their name and are lost when it comes to supporting themselves. Several of the young adults that are in foster care have health complications.

According to the article, “Twenty-five percent of 19-year-old former foster care youth reported a higher incidence of health problems than non-foster care youth…(“Challenges”). Since the adolescent will not have the essential money to pay to get themselves the health care they need. The health issues can turn into major dilemma if they are left unattended. The youth may not find it worth it to go through all of this trouble and will end up committing crime. Youth that have been placed in foster care usually have a history of abuse which puts them more at risk for committing a crime (“Challenges” ). For this reason the youth will end up in jail. At such a young age more should be done to set them on the path for success.

First solution is to keep children from aging out of the system with nowhere to go is to extend foster care pass the age of eighteen. First, by extending foster care the young adults are more likely to be settled in the world with having completed school and having a job. According to the text, “Doubled the odds that they would be working or in high school at 19 (“Supporting Older Youth in Foster Care”). From this excerpt, the youth were more likely to be successful and have something going for themselves. In addition, it gives them a window of opportunity to meet people that they consider friends and family.

Also by extending foster care it reduces the amount of trouble the children get into. It the text it addresses that by extending foster care it, “Reduced by 38 percent the incidence of pregnancy among young women in care before age 20 (“Supporting Older Youth in Foster Care”). As a result, the young adults will maintain a structure and not fall into bad habits, because they aged out of the foster care with no assistance from anyone else. While this solution would work for many there would be requirements of the youth such as they need to be in schooling or going out to get a job.

By having these requirements it helps the young adults go out into the world to better themselves and get situated in the real world. In fact, already 25 states have started to extend foster care beyond the age of 18 and it has been beneficial to those who would have aged out of the system. Unfortunately, it will also cost the foster care program extra money to support the youth longer, but it is an investment that is worth it.

Another, solution is to provide pre-adoption training for the guardians and better background checks to see if they are a suitable match for the child. Parents may feel inadequate to deal with the behavioral or health issues of the child they are adopting. Also the parents may not know how to properly insert themselves into the child’s life without creating too much of a disturbance. Children within the foster care have had to deal with a lot within their short lifetime and it may have not be the easiest time for them.

The text acknowledges that, “Trauma, neglect, and attachment disorder affect the emotional and social well-being of children and can be difficult to address due to a lack of understanding by primary care providers…(“Domestic”). Because of this the, training program will make the guardians feel at ease and as if they are equipped to handle anything they may face. The background checks will help determine if they are able to care properly for that type of child. The article suggests that, “…better screening of potential adoptive parents… assess their ability to handle children with behavioral health issues (“Domestic”). This program will keep the match from failing and help the child get the care they deserve and need. While this could make parents feel more adequate to handle becoming a foster parent there are many that would feel that they do not need training. Families may feel that they can handle it all, and therefore not take the time to go through the program. Also if families do the training program there is not a 100% guarantee that there will not be conflicts that arise.

Lastly, another solution is to have more adoption assistance to help pay for the child’s needs. Adoption is costly and there are countless amounts of families who would love to parent and help a foster child, but can not because they do not have the money to pay for all of the expenses. The article analyzes, “…the costs of care and services were major obstacles to parents who would otherwise adopt and be suitable parents for children from foster care, and many foster children were not placed for adoption due to this barrier (“Adoption Assistance for Children Adopted From Foster Care”). What should be emphasized is that there should be more aid to families that need the financial support to care for the child because that will help that child get a family they deserve. There are various different ways that the youth or guardians can meet the required criteria for the needed financial help. The three types of categories that state adoption assistance mainly fall into is medical assistance, direct payment assistance, and supplemental adoption assistance.

Medical assistance covers all or almost all of medical expenses that the family’s insurance would not cover, direct payment assistance is payment that goes to the family to help with the child’s needs, and supplemental assistance is depends on the state but it usually covers emergencies. Adoption is expensive and this could help families adopt but in order to receive the assistance the child and family have to meet certain requirements. The text states that the, “…agency will examine many factors when determining whether a child is eligible to receive Federal adoption assistance (“Adoption Assistance for Children Adopted From Foster Care”). Each state will choose the guidelines in which determines whether or not the child can qualify. Many may not qualify but may come close. Also those that do qualify it still may not be enough for the guardians to support the foster child. Many families are ready to take in a foster child but finding the money is not simple.

To conclude, foster care fails to fulfill the promise to find the adolescent the family they need before they age out of the system. The solution that will result in the most beneficial results for the foster child is for foster care to extend foster care past the age of 18. By doing this the program is not failing the several young adults because they will still have a place to call home and people around them for support. The young adults will be able to go out and establish themselves in the world and meet various people and be able to call them friends and family. Vast amounts of young adults are aging out of the system and being put out into the world with no support and a solution needs to be found and promptly.