On Their Own: What Happens to Kids When They Age Out of the Foster Care System?
Shirk, Martha. Stangler, Gary. Carter, Jimmy.
xii, 307 p.
Publication Information: Boulder, CO : Westview Press.
Available from: Westview Press
5500 Central Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301-2877
Most eighteen year olds have a network of support to guide them into adulthood. However, approximately 20,000 youth aged out of the foster care system in 2001 without family, emotional connections, financial assistance, or positive prospects for self-sufficiency. Foster youth lack the experience and knowledge to live on their own and are at high risk for dropping out of high school, homelessness, unemployment, early parenthood, and crime. Resources for these youth are inadequate, despite the implementation of the Foster Care Independence Act which was intended to prepare foster children for independent living and expand benefits beyond their eighteenth birthday. This book describes the challenges faced by ten youth who moved from foster care to independence in cities from New York to Kansas. The profiles illustrate the need for family and informal support networks, preparation for household and financial management, and youth participation in planning. Communities are encouraged to take action to support young people at risk by strengthening educational opportunities, employment, housing options, health care, and personal and community relationships. Specific strategies include helping youth enter and remain in college, promoting part-time work and other resources for employment, and increasing access to Medicaid. Programs such as the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative are providing assistance with short-term expenses, savings accounts, and housing. Numerous references and notes.
foster children; adolescents; independent living; case studies; emancipation