Foster Care Alums Weigh In: Building a Better Exit Plan
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Resources That Received a Shout-Out
- Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
- Opportunity Passport
- Success Beyond 18
- Money Habitudes
- Fostering Advocates Young Adult Leadership Board
- Earn While You Learn
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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