Empowering Foster Youth to Improve Their Futures
While 70% of foster youth desire a college experience, only 7-13% of students from foster care enroll in higher education, and less than 3% earn a bachelor's degree compared to 24% of their peers. At FosterClub, we give foster youth the ability to engage with policy makers and college support programs.
We empower young people to share their stories, which leads to policy changes that improve educational opportunities and stability for foster youth. One youth testified to the US Senate about living in seven foster placements and attending ten different schools that taught content in different sequences. "Despite the statistics that suggest that roughly half of foster care and homeless youth do not finish high school, I will be graduating in four weeks with a 3.7 GPA," she said to a round of applause from the audience in the packed committee room. Not only does this offer an empowering experience for a young person, but such testimony helped pass in 2008 the Fostering Connection to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which increases educational stability and supports older youth pursuing educational dreams.
Of foster youth surveyed by FosterClub, 45% were concerned about landing in abusive relationships and 72% found “understanding what a healthy relationship is” challenging. The statistics say that within three years of leaving foster care, a third of young women will give birth. Between 1998 and 2006 in Illinois, about 1 in 5 teen mothers in foster care were investigated for child abuse and neglect of their own children (Dworsky & DeCoursey, 2009). Unfortunately, we see similar numbers in other states.
We have programming focused on sexuality and relationships to lead young people in confronting difficult histories, learning new relationship skills, and taking ownership of healthy connections to those around them. This allows young people to create a brighter future for the next generation and enjoying healthy connections in their own families- ending the cycle with them.
Full Participation in Society.
80% of prisoners spent time in the foster care system as children. A 2010 study found that nearly 60% of young men who had been in foster care had been convicted of a crime, compared with 10% of young men who had never been in care.
We offer inspiration, positive role models, and resources to help youth achieve brighter futures. Past classes of FosterClub All-Star Interns, all of whom have experienced foster care, experience less involvement with the criminal justice system. And if they do make mistakes, they are better prepared to not let those experiences define them. This speaks to the resilience of foster youth when afforded opportunities and support, who go on to participate fully and contribute to society.
According to a nationwide study of runaway youths, more than one-third had been in foster care in the year before they took to the streets. More than 1 out of 5 youths who arrive at a shelter come directly from a foster or group home. In young adulthood, approximately 20% of youth ageing out of the foster care system became homeless within 2 years.
We offer web-based resources and personalized outreach for young people to follow up on them after they age out. Although this service is geographically limited, we hope to reach more youth in the future. Also, we have passed legislation allowing support for youth as they establish themselves as adults, and have development publications, toolkits and trainings that encourage young people to form strong support networks- which help protect them from hardships that can lead to homelessness.