Some children don’t have safe and loving homes that they can call their own. For whatever reason, the parents of these children are not able to provide for them and nor is extended family. When this occurs, the child is placed into the foster care system. In Massachusetts, thousands of children are placed into foster care every year.
We make promises to these children when we place them that they will have the chance for a safer life and a secure one. While true for some who can safely and permanently return home or who are adopted, there are thousands for whom these are just empty words. These are children who “age out” of care as young adults with nowhere to turn. Because they have no safety net, Friends of Children created the FOCUS Program to offer mentors, resources and opportunities to build skills to last a lifetime. It seems unconscionable to ask young people who have had no grounding in family, no secure place to live, no consistent, trusted adult to offer guidance and support, and no ability to practice independent life skills, to suddenly sort out how be on “own their own.” In an agrarian economy, 18 was a magic age of maturity, when a young person was expected to manage independently. This is not who we now are as a society or economically, and it is unjust to accept that a part of our population already at such risk will be even moreso.
Read the data below, a story of volunteers supporting FOCUS youth, and “In Their Own Words” to learn more about the how and why of FOCUS 2022 and how it is helping young people chart their courses to adulthood in successful steps!
Did you know?
Nationally, more than 20,000 young adults exit foster care systems with little to no support.
In our state, it is estimated that close to 900 young adults transition out of the Department of Children and Families’ supportive care each year (the data on this are not well reported by DCF).
Recent national data suggest that the average American youth lives at home until 27. How can we expect foster youth to thrive on their own at the age of 18 or even 22 without the skills or support needed to succeed independently?
Without a safety net, the outcomes are poor:
- 3% will graduate from college (10x less than the general population)
- 29% will be unable to pay rent (4x more than the general population)
- 40% will experience homelessness within one year
- 71% will experience unemployment within one year of leaving care, those that are working have a median income of $9,000
- 42% will be convicted of a crime (7x more than the general population)