Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Foster Care and Young Adulthood

Postcard from Foster Care Alumni of America

Historically, the age of 18
was thought of as a divider between childhood and adulthood.

Back in the early to mid-20th century, jobs were available to people with little or no education. Therefore, most young people could financial and social independence by their 18th birthday.

This is no longer the case. It has been estimated that nearly a quarter of the cost of raising children is now provided after the age of 17.

The average parent of 18-34 year olds provides over $2,000/year to support them.

Today, some people are over 30 before they:
- Complete their schooling
- Obtain steady work
- Move out of the family home
- Get married and have children

Higher education is becoming necessary, in order to earn a living wage:
- A bachelor's degree today is the equivalent of a high school degree in the 60s

- Two-thirds of all new jobs that will be created in the next 10 years will require post-secondary education

- Adults who have only a high school degree are twice as likely to be unemployed as those with a bachelor's degree

- A typical high school graduate, with no additional education, will earn over his/her lifetime half as much as a college graduate

Demands for increasing education have created a larger gap between childhood and adulthood. Therefore, developmental experts now recognize a transitional stage of Young Adulthood.

But what about young people aging out of foster care? (You knew I would come back to that, didn't you?) Published statistics outline dire outcomes for our lives - and these odds need to change.

This weekend, I created a wiki called Changing the Odds

Its purpose is to:
- Outline the scary statistics and troubling trends regarding foster care alumni
- Examine which policies are helping, and what systemic barriers need to be fixed
- Celebrate "Best Practices" in terms of successful programs throughout the nation

Sources:
Adolescence and the Transition to Adulthood: Rethinking Public Policy for a New Century
Business Roundtable
Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago
MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood and Public Polic
y
National Adolescent Health Information Center
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
U.S. Census Bureau

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