American Morning

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July 6th, 2010
12:00 PM ET

Teens aging out of foster care have no homes, no jobs

(CNN) – When most teens leave home for the first time they still have their parents to rely on for help. For young adults in foster care, once they're dropped from the system they often have no one to turn to. In California, the help that was available has been scaled back because of budget cuts. So how do these young adults get by? Our Thelma Gutierrez has one teen's story in this AM original report.

Related: The Teen Project

Filed under: AM Original • Living
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Christine James-Brown

    Thank you for calling attention to the traumatic experiences of teens who are “aging out” of the foster care system when they reach the age of 18. For youth “aging out” of the system, emancipation is never easy. Their road to adulthood is paved with daunting hurdles and hardships that profoundly impact their lives long after they leave foster care. Consequently, they have become one of our nation’s most vulnerable populations. They are more likely to become homeless, incarcerated or dependent on state services, which ultimately amounts to substantial costs to America’s public systems far and wide.

    For Carla and thousands of other adolescents who are “aging out” of foster care, there is an imperative and growing need for resources and support services that will break down the barriers and build bridges to a productive life after foster care. At the age of 18, rarely is any youth ready to be “independent.” Foster youth in particular are very “interdependent.” Extended foster care for youth until they reach the age of 21 means long-term cost savings and increased opportunities for a successful transition to adulthood. In addition, outcomes are significantly improved for these youth when they have a loving, stable adult to support them.

    The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 is a crucial piece of legislation that can provide much needed support for youth aging out of America’s foster care system. This key legislation will allow states to claim federal reimbursement for the costs of caring for and supervising eligible foster youth until the age of 21.

    However, due to the economic downturn and dramatic budget cuts, implementation of the law’s provisions has been slow, or not at all, in most states across the country. For states and advocacy organizations alike, the daunting challenges that are facing thousands of youth aging out of foster care calls for a campaign to make implementing the Fostering Connections Law a top priority.

    Christine James-Brown
    President and CEO
    Child Welfare League of America
    Arlington, VA

    July 9, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  2. California resident

    I feel sorry for these teens that are having to leave the foster care and now have to face the harsh realities of our poor economic condition. As it is qualified, educated profesionals have lost their jobs and are seeking work. Now these teens must compete with the growing unemployed population. And yet our Govnor continuest to fly in his personal jet to work everyday. It would be one thing if there were actual jobs for these teens to get to sustain themselves, but there is no work anywhere.

    July 8, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
  3. Nelia Barrera

    Hello, I saw the story yesterday and since have called and left messages at the CNN in Los Angeles. I have received No Response.
    I called Information for Teen Project in Los Angeles and there is no such Listing. I searched online for Teen Project and other subjects showed up. I am interested in talking to Terri Burns. I am not sure if that is the correct name of the Project Manager of the person in charge of running this program. Does anybody have any ideas how I can communicate with this Project.
    Thank you.

    July 8, 2010 at 7:43 am |
  4. lisa

    I'M just wondering as others are why is she moving on? Is it because the family cant afford to support her with payments removed, it would have been good to hear something from her parents ( carers). My foster children are welcome in our/their home for the rest of their lives as are our biological children.

    July 7, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
  5. mary

    Part of the foster parents/care job is to prepare the child for independance, especially if they intend to kick her out at 18. While the government shouldn't fund foster kids beyond 18, the parents should also have a plan to help the child. succeed in life. Whether that is encouraging an after school job, or getting her prepared for community college.

    July 7, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  6. deborah

    I was in the foster care system for 12 years and aged out when I was 18. I was lucky and had a supportive network around me who helped me get in college. Even with that network, it was a struggle. Maybe I am wrong but it seems that many people take for granted the support both financial and emotional that parents provide. I remember having to struggle with things like what to do on Thanksgiving and X-mas break because I had no "home" to go to. Most states do a poor job of providing for aging out foster children and California is one of the states that has the most supports in place.

    July 7, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  7. nancy

    she's 18, she can go to college and work like other 18 yo's.

    July 7, 2010 at 9:23 am |
  8. MrX

    I just turned on the t.v and caught this story. I have to say it really hit a soft spot with me. It also angered me to think things like this is happening in what is suppose to be the greatest country. All those kids need is just a chance but it seems like even that is taken away from them. Its sad cause eventually they will turn to drugs and prostitution to survive and that is just the cold hard reality of that matter. I pray that there are programs out there that are genuinely trying to make a difference cause i would differently support them.

    July 7, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  9. Sharon

    I am in the process of setting up a program for aged out foster care youth. They must be willing to go to college or a two year accredited institution. They will work or volunteer to obtain job skills and learn how to budget their funds while in the program. It saddens me to see that this is not in place world wide.

    If she was happy with her foster family, why did she have to leave because she aged out?

    July 6, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  10. TayB

    I was never in foster care but I feel like I can relate. I am almost 22 now and still struggle everyday. My mom moved away without me when I was 16 just after my dad died. She tried to send money as she could but eventually that stopped. I finished high school, have taken some college & have continued to work full time to pay for my bills and apartment. I have a nice home, am engaged & have 2 dogs, but I still wish that I had the extra help and support that so many of my peers continue to get from their parents as they transition into adulthood. A lot of my friend graduated with bachelors degrees this year and it kind of felt bad, I know I will get there, it will just take a little longer, or maybe I just will have to go the less traveled path. It's a matter of hanging on even when you feel like you can't any longer.

    July 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  11. Hunter

    This issue occurs in many states across the country. Sadly, many of these kids are years behind socially, academically and emotionally. so are far less prepared to transition into independent living than the average youth from a stable home. I was a foster parent for 12 years in Arizona and continue to work this issue with my two youth that I adopted at 18.

    However, the real problem begins much earlier while they suffer the multiple stresses of life in foster care which can be far more traumatizing than any actions to which they were removed from their birth families. I have written a book called : "Through Our Eyes, A Foster Family Shares Their Secret World," which barely touches on this modern social crises.

    July 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  12. callmehat

    Why does she have to leave? Her foster family seems nice, why wouldn't they let her hang out for another year or so until she gets her bearings? I know they aren't getting a check from the gov any more, but again, they seem nice, so that can't be all they're about. If that were my foster kid, I wouldn't want all my work trying to give her a stable life to be undone like that.

    July 6, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  13. B.

    This is truly sad, I cant imagine what I would do if I was in that situation, I am 20 and still living with my mom, just trying to get out and have a decent job at this age is just about impossible, oh well keep your head up girl wish I could offer some assistance.

    July 6, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  14. Someone

    Does she have to leave the foster house? It seems her foster parents care about her a great deal. If it is the money issue, maybe she can go get a part time job to cover the cost of the room and food? I can't imagine the foster system paying too much. Even if she would earn $200 washing dishes on the weekends....this way she learns the responsibility of life, and have loving people around her.

    July 6, 2010 at 2:08 pm |