The potential to save society billions of dollars while giving young people in foster care what they need to thrive makes it imperative that more states consider extending foster care to age 21. This is the case that Leslie Gross, director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative®, makes in a new Youth Today op-ed.
“Young people in extended foster care are more likely to obtain a high school diploma or equivalent credential than those who age out of foster care earlier, and young people of color in extended foster care have the same or higher odds of obtaining a high school diploma/GED than their white counterparts in extended care,” Gross writes in the op-ed.
“Imagine we could make sure that every young person transitioning out of foster care was able to graduate from high school and go on to college or postsecondary training, live in safe and stable housing and have opportunities to work and delay parenting until they are ready,” Gross adds. “If we knew that support would pay off in $4.1 billion for our country’s economy over the life span of each wave of 23,000 young people leaving foster care every year, wouldn’t we make it happen?”
The op-ed underscores the findings of Future Savings, a recent Casey report. The publication focuses on young people who age out of foster care and explores four areas — education, early parenthood, homelessness and incarceration — where they fare worse than their general population peers. Future Savings examines the economic cost of this shortfall and how targeted interventions can help these youth while also erasing billions of dollars in unnecessary costs.
Read more on the economic benefits of supporting youth in foster care as they transition to adulthood