Study: Difficult Future Awaits Most Foster Children

The New York Times reports on a significant new study released Wednesday that examines the lives of foster children who were never adopted and “aged out” of foster care into adulthood alone.  The findings echo those of prior studies, reminding that government is a poor substitute for parents, and underscoring the long-term challenges facing individuals who grow up and enter adulthood without the love and support of a family.

By their mid-20s, less half of those who’d aged out of foster care were employed.  More than 80 percent of males had been arrested (compared to 17 percent of all males).  And of women who’d aged out of the foster system, 68 percent were on food stamps, compared to 7 percent of all women.

As the study’s lead researcher explains, ““We took them away from their parents on the assumption that we as a society would do a better job of raising them.  We’ve invested a lot money and time in their care, and by many measures they’re still doing very poorly.”   See the troubling chart from the NY Times on the statistical outcomes below, and to read more, click  here…

In the midst of this disturbing reminder, however, there’s reason for much hope.  As noted in prior blog posts here, Christians nationwide are rallying to this need.  In some regions of concentrated effort, it is entirely conceivable that we will see a day when virtually no children whose parental relationship has been terminated grow up without being adopted.  For example, as noted in this post from February and in today’s “Capitol Commentary” from the Center for Public Justice, the number of children waiting for adoption in the Colorado foster system has been slashed in half, from nearly 800 to 365, since November 2008 (despite a continual inflow of new children in need of adoption.)  The simple truth is that, daunting as the needs are, this is a challenge that can be overcome.  If just a small percentage of America’s 300,000 churches created small foster care and adoption ministries, the number of children waiting for adoption in the foster system could be reduced to virtually zero and the statistics highlighted below could be fundamentally transformed.  That’s a vision worth dreaming, praying, and working towards.

Chart of Stats on Foster Youth from NY Times
Chart of Stats on Foster Youth from NY Times