Approximately 20,000 youth age out of foster care every year without a permanent family. Other youth are discharged from foster care before the age of age 18 and reunite with their biological families. Their family connections are often weak and these young people may quickly find themselves without a stable place to live. Another group of young people run away from foster care before they reach adulthood. The bottom line is that teens in foster care have experienced numerous hurts and face a variety of obstacles. Many have missed out on the guidance and skill building needed to successfully transition into adulthood.
Teens in foster care often require a combination of services to become productive, self-sufficient adults — mental health services, life skills, mentoring, employment preparation, educational support, housing, and medical coverage. If we continue to wait until they are standing at the exit door or months away from “aging out” to intervene, we will continue to have thousands of young people exit care unprepared for life on their own. I believe that all young people who spend time in the foster care system after age 14 or the traditional age of a high school freshman should receive special attention, training, and support. We can do it!!!