Report Highlights Challenges Facing Young Adults Leaving Foster Care, Legislative Efforts
A new national report details some of the challenges faced by young people transitioning out of foster care. The report finds many foster children lag behind their peers when it comes to graduating high school or finding jobs. Ohio advocates say policy changes are needed to help level the playing field.
Brandi Slaughter, CEO of Voices for Ohio’s Children, says there have always been challenges for young people living in foster care.
“Young people in foster care are too often faced with disruption by way of multiple moves, academic challenges and ultimately a lack of permanent connection to family,” she says.
These and other issues are examined in a new national report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, called Fostering Youth Transitions.
The report details statistics on foster teens' ethnicity and number of placements, as they leave foster care and enter adulthood.
The report ranks Ohio as doing well when it comes to housing programs. But, the report finds the state could do better in providing more education and job-training programs, and job placement assistance.
For instance, of foster care youth leaving the system, 39 percent utilize federal housing-assistance programs put in place. That figure falls to 19 percent at the national level.
In looking at transition services for employment and vocational training programs, young adults leaving the foster-care system are participating at a rate of 23 percent. Within the state of Ohio, only 6 percent are utilizing such programs.
And on both state and national levels, young adults who have experienced any level of foster care, "have worse outcomes than their peers in the general population," in finding full or part-time employment and obtaining high school diplomas or GEDs.
To Slaughter, that means there is room for improvement.
One problem, she says, is that, while the state oversees Ohio’s foster-care program, it’s administered at the county level - creating a patchwork system that can leave gaps in service.
“So you have 88 different ways, 88 different abilities to provide services and care for children who might be in foster care. So, there are some communities that might be resource-rich and other communities that might not have the community support in that way.”
Slaughter does say, however, that she supports Governor-Elect Mike DeWine’s calls for a comprehensive review of Ohio’s foster-care system. DeWine has also said he wants to boost state investment in foster care, and establish an independent ombudsman to investigate problems in the system.