The facts on foster care are heartbreaking. The truth is, an overwhelming number of children will enter the system every year in the United States due to everything from abuse to neglect and even the tragic, unforeseen loss of a parent. And for many, the road to resilience is a bumpy one.
We’re on a mission to spread awareness. Because truthfully? Each of us has the power to make a difference. Keep scrolling to explore the challenges youth in foster care face.
#1: There are over 400,000 kids in foster care in the United States.
Some are awaiting adoption. Some will go back to their birth parents. Others will age out or, sometimes, run away.
#2: Kids in foster care suffer from PTSD at twice the rate of returning war veterans.
Studies show that children in foster care confront PTSD at nearly twice the rate of veterans. And PTSD can mimic many other mental health conditions, often manifesting as nightmares, flashbacks, fight-or-flight responses, anger outbursts, and hyper-vigilance (being on “red alert” at all times), among other symptoms.
#3: Only 55% of teens in foster care graduated from high school in 2020.
Children in foster care face significant challenges in the education system. Between frequent moves, navigating school changes, and the lingering effects of trauma, as many as 40% will experience learning difficulties. And sadly, in 2020, only 55% graduated high school compared to 87.3% of their peers.
#4: Children can experience eight or more placements while in foster care.
That’s eight homes that foster children move into—and out of. And with each move, they often lose connections to those they’ve bonded with, including teachers, friends, classmates, and other critical people in their lives.
#5: Homelessness is a chronic problem for teens exiting foster care.
Roughly 20,000 teens will age out of foster care in the United States every year. And up to 50% of them will face unemployment and homelessness.
#6: A significant number of kids in care struggle with mental health conditions.
Due to everything from complex trauma to frequent transitions and the loss of family relationships, roughly 80% of kids in foster care grapple with a mental health condition. But wraparound behavioral health services like those we provide through our therapeutic foster care program can transform lives!
#7: Only a small percentage of kids in foster care will finish college and earn a degree.
According to the National Foster Youth Institute, at any given time, roughly 70% of kids in care report they want to attend college. Yet, sadly, due to various challenges, less than 3% of those who age out will earn a higher education degree.
#8: Kids who age out of foster care face significant barriers to employment.
Due to a myriad of challenges, only half of those who age out secure gainful employment by the time they reach twenty-four, many earning no income at all. And those bringing home a paycheck earn an average of only $7,500 annually.
#9: In 2020, a child entered foster care every 150 seconds in the United States.
According to the U.S. Children’s Bureau, in 2020, 216,838 kids entered care, with neglect being the primary cause. And sadly, there aren’t enough foster parents to meet the need.
Yet, it’s a common misconception that fostering always means providing a forever home. Yes, many children will need a loving family to adopt them. But many more will need caregivers who open their hearts, reserve judgment, and support reunification with their birth families.
There’s no question about it. One person can change a child’s trajectory, whether by being a forever parent or a temporary beacon amid a traumatic period in their life.
Do you want to make a difference?
No one’s fate is written in stone—each of us has the power to transform young lives. Studies show the most overwhelming protective factor for children facing trauma is a relationship with one caring adult.
Contact us today to learn more about getting involved as a foster parent or respite provider.
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