This Annie E. Casey Foundation brief examines the experiences of teenagers and young adults in foster care as reported by all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The brief includes an analysis of comprehensive data spanning 15 years and is accompanied by data tables and source notes.
"Fostering Youth Transitions 2023" examines how young people ages 14 to 21 were faring before and after they left foster care between 2006 and 2021 and how child welfare systems supported their transition to adulthood. The data show that government systems must do more. It is vital that advocates and policymakers align foster care policy with healthy adolescent and young adult development and partner with youth to make strategic investments in their futures.
The brief's recommendations build on the work of the Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative®. The systems-change effort is guided by research that shows young people in foster care need permanent and meaningful relationships with supportive adults, reliable resources to meet basic needs and accessible opportunities for education and work. Policymakers, child welfare system leaders, practitioners, advocates and communities are encouraged to partner with young people and families who have experienced foster care and use “Fostering Youth Transitions 2023” data to develop solutions that support permanence, health and long-term success.
Advocates and policymakers must expand efforts to help all young people thrive after transitioning out of foster care system.
Fostering Youth Transitions 2023 Findings & Stats
The Pandemic's Toll
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a 14-year drop in the number of youth in foster care.
Neglect on the Rise
Cases reported as neglect increased from 29% of total cases in 2006 to 48% in 2021.
Kinship care placements with relatives and close friends increased from 14% in 2006 to 22% in 2021.
Permanence Remains Elusive
Teens and young adults ages 16 to 21 were less likely to leave foster care with permanent families in 2021 than they were in 2016.
An Underutilized Resource
Despite being federally reimbursable, extended foster care saw a slight decrease in 2021 to only about 22%.
Statements & Quotations
For youth in foster care — and especially for those exiting foster care without connections to a permanent family — these [federally funded services] can make the difference between surviving and thriving, between instability and stability.
Understanding the outcomes of young adults who have been in foster care is critical to shaping the services and support they need.
By reviewing the data and including young people who have foster care experience when designing solutions, advocates, policymakers and practitioners can take action to make improvements.
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