Foster Care Alums Weigh In: Building a Better Exit Plan

Posted November 23, 2016, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Blog fostercarealumsweighin 2016

Every year in Amer­i­ca, near­ly 24,000 young adults age out of fos­ter care.

The tran­si­tion isn’t an easy one. Many youth are thrust into inde­pen­dence at age 18 —and into a world rife with insta­bil­i­ty, where the risk of unem­ploy­ment and home­less­ness is high and shoul­ders of sup­port are some­times nonexistent.

Enter the Annie E Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive.

Saman­thya Amann and Brit­tany Hunter are Jim Casey young fel­lows who have expe­ri­enced fos­ter care — and life after fos­ter care. As fel­lows, both women now help guide the Foundation’s efforts to improve the lives of youth exit­ing care.

The Casey Foundation’s Lisa Hamil­ton recent­ly spoke to Amann and Hunter about their per­son­al paths out of fos­ter care. Both women talked about the bar­ri­ers they faced, what strate­gies and sup­ports they used, and what a smoother exit from the sys­tem could look like.

A huge thank you to Amann and Hunter for shar­ing their sto­ries and their ideas on how we can help all youth leave fos­ter care pre­pared and empow­ered to succeed.

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What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • Some bar­ri­ers that young peo­ple face when exit­ing fos­ter care.
  • The assets and sup­ports that can help youth make the leap from fos­ter care to adulthood.
  • The role of peers and men­tors in help­ing youth suc­cess­ful­ly tran­si­tion out of care.
  • Why it’s impor­tant to extend fos­ter care ser­vices beyond age 18.
  • How fos­ter care ser­vices should evolve in ear­ly adulthood.
  • How to help young adults gain finan­cial sta­bil­i­ty as they move toward independence.
  • Advice to youth who are cur­rent­ly in fos­ter care.

Con­ver­sa­tion Clips

In their own words…

Even though we all need to be con­nect­ed to one adult by age 25, it is so impor­tant to have that com­mu­ni­ty of mul­ti­ple adults com­ing togeth­er. It doesn’t take just one adult. It does take a vil­lage to help us be successful.”
-Saman­thya Amann

I found myself in a predica­ment where I had to leave my job and stop school because I could not afford child care, and I know this is dev­as­tat­ing. Not hav­ing reli­able child care shouldn’t hin­der any­one from achiev­ing their dreams.”
-Brit­tany Hunter

The exten­sion of care needs to be vol­un­tary. It needs to be indi­vid­u­al­ized. Work one on one with us. Lis­ten to us. Meet our needs where we’re at, and then make sure that we are lead­ing the process.”
-Saman­thya Amann

I think it’s incred­i­bly impor­tant to be inno­v­a­tive and to meet us where we’re at. The solu­tions that work today — the ones that we’re brain­storm­ing — might not be what peo­ple in care need in five years. So please con­tin­ue to lis­ten to us and give us a seat at the table.”
-Saman­thya Amann

One of the main issues that I think leads to these poor out­comes is that young peo­ple in fos­ter care don’t have basic neces­si­ties — like their own trans­porta­tion. Learn­ing to dri­ve is a rite of pas­sage for most young peo­ple, and I say most because a lot of my peers in fos­ter care didn’t have their license by age 18. When you think about who you learned to dri­ve with, it’s usu­al­ly your mom and dad. But we don’t have those roles when you are in fos­ter care.”
-Saman­thya Amann

Resources That Received a Shout-Out

About the Podcast

Cas­ey­Cast is a month­ly pod­cast pro­duced by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and host­ed by its vice pres­i­dent of exter­nal affairs, Lisa Hamil­ton. Each episode fea­tures Hamil­ton talk­ing with a new expert about how we can build a brighter future for kids, fam­i­lies and communities.

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