Press Release

NEW REPORT: TOO MANY OLDER YOUTH LEAVING FOSTER CARE WITHOUT FAMILIES

Media Advisory: For Immediate Release

ADOPTION INSTITUTE, CALLING PERMANENCY VITAL, RECOMMENDS BROAD
POLICY AND PRACTICE CHANGES

 

NEW YORK, July. 21, 2011 – While many positive efforts are being made to help older youth who “age out” of foster care, a comprehensive new report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute concludes that the U.S. child welfare system is not adequately meeting their needs, as evidenced by the growing proportion who become independent each year without a family or even an adult they can turn to.

The 94-page report, entitled “Never Too Old,” points out that while adoptions of younger children from foster care have been rising significantly, the success rate for older youth remains anemic. The report examines the array of state and federal initiatives that focus on these youth, and finds many to be effective or promising; nonetheless, it concludes that far more needs to be done, suggests that these young people should become a national priority, and recommends steps to achieve better outcomes.

“We remove thousands of children from their original homes each year because of abuse or neglect, with the implicit promise that we’ll keep them safe and give them better lives,” said Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. “Unfortunately, a growing number are aging out without any connections to adults, so they too often wind up pregnant, on the streets, in jail or in poverty.

“Simply put, as a society, we are failing them.”

In keeping with the Institute’s focus on permanency for all children, “Never Too Old” looks not just at adoption, but also at subsidized guardianship, reconnecting youth with kin, reunification and all the other effective approaches that can achieve enduring, supportive connections. The Institute’s recommendations, based on over a year of research and analysis, include:

  • Increase recruitment, support and utilization of relatives as permanency resources for youth, both through adoption and subsidized guardianships.
  • Work for true permanency for every youth, meaning a family or an enduring adult connection; emancipation, “independent living” and the like should be last resorts – not goals.
  • Assess controversial steps such as restoring the rights of biological parents whose children were removed from their homes, and conduct more research into what works and doesn’t.

A core conclusion in the report, based on research and experience, is that permanent, emotionally sustaining and committed relationships are imperative for all youth – including those who grow up with strong families, financial support and other benefits – to reach self-sufficiency and to thrive in early adulthood. The following statistics should be understood against that backdrop: On average, almost 28,000 youth aged out of foster care in each of the last six years, peaking at 29,730 in Fiscal 2007 – and the percentage has grown steadily, from 7 percent in FY1998 to 11 percent in Fiscal 2010.

For more information about “Never Too Old” or to schedule an interview, please contact Pertman at 617-763-0134 or apertman@adoptioninstitute.org. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent research, policy and education organization in its field. Its mission is to provide leadership – through sound research – that improves the lives of everyone touched by adoption. Its award-winning website is http://www.adoptioninstitute.org.