Transcript (PDF - 164 KB)
Thousands of youth graduate from high school or reach the age of maturity while still in the foster care system. Many of these youth “age out” of the system with little or no connection to family or supportive adults and face the potential of poor life prospects. Foster care alumni face high rates of homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, and lack of access to health care.
Aged Out: How We’re Failing Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care: Insights and Recommendations, a report developed by Think Of Us, aims to reframe the approach to transitioning youth to adulthood and independent living. The report details three themes regarding areas where the child welfare system is failing foster youth and that should be given greater focus: helping youth heal and deal with trauma, centering youth in their preparedness, and helping youth build a supportive network.
Think Of Us developed the report with Bloom Works through 6 months of onsite research across five locations. More than 200 foster youth, former foster youth, child welfare professionals, foster parents, and supportive adults were interviewed to achieve the following:
- Establish a clear picture of the entire aging-out process
- Understand independent living programs (ILPs) and the ILP plan-making process and assess ILPs as potential touchpoints to influence the aging-out process
- Understand the existing tapped and untapped relationships and connections that foster youth have and their mental models about the people they have in their lives
- Unearth ways to support youth and programs to identify and activate support networks in the context of ILPs
The discussion takes place over two episodes. This episode features insights and findings surrounding each of the three themes, and in part 2, the conversation shifts to recommendations for agencies and supportive adults to address the themes.
The following individuals are featured in this episode:
- Sixto Cancel, chief executive officer, Think Of Us
- Sarah Sullivan, senior director, Think Of Us
Topics discussed include the following:
- Why the report was not Think Of Us’ original intent
- What new perspective Sixto, an alumnus of foster care, gained from conducting onsite research
- Insights on how agencies and supportive adults can help youth heal and deal with trauma, center youth in their preparedness, and help youth build a support network