Transition from foster care

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The main challenge facing the United States is that children who grow up in nursing care do not get assistance until they age outside the nursing care environment. Research reveals that a large proportion of young people face challenges after they leave foster care to move to live on their own. Many of these children are forced to live on the streets because they do not have the money to meet basic living expenses, because they do not have regular employment, because they are not involved in the criminal justice system, because they are unable to obtain healthcare and because they have early pregnancy. Studies` show that although youth reported exposure to independent living training while in foster care, few reported concrete assistances. (Reilly Thorn)

According to the journal of housing and community development an estimated 14-30 percent of these youth will experience at least one night of homelessness in the first one to three years following emancipation (Gabrielle Richards). The problem becomes even more significant when you realize that the Chaffe Program, foster care independence program, is awarded about 140 million dollars but only 30 percent of the funds are relocated to sustainable housing cost (Gabrielle Richards). By failing to provide help to the children when they age out of the foster care, foster kids fail to provide for themselves and therefore become homeless. With about half of youth aging out of care without a high school diploma, employment, financial stability, and housing security suffer; and up to 40% experience homelessness (Tonia Stott). Foster care placement instability has been shown to be problematic for adolescents in care This problem may cause emancipated foster youth to become involved with substance abuse or bad sexual behaviors causing many emancipated foster youth kids to look for a place to live in jail. People are often confused about the foster care system they do not assume that these kids that age out have nowhere to go, people are often misconstrued to believe that the children are well cared for and helped when they are aging out (Tonia Stott).

With all the problems facing the foster care system, some simple solutions would be to host workshops where the kids can learn how to provide for themselves by equipping themselves with entrepreneurial skills or how to find jobs. (Rosemary J. Avery). The second solution would be to implement some job training when they reach the age of 17 so as they know which jobs they best suited. These are some problems that can be overcome with some of these simple solutions however there is or will be a potential cost of fixing this process. To explore the issue, I will find limitations faced emancipated foster youth kids and how the Federal and State policies together with the whole society have addressed this challenges. So much money is going into the system, and the children are still struggling. Second, I will research some of the solutions that have been used to combat these challenges and their effectiveness. For this information, I will search for articles from the Miami Dade databases to find peer-reviewed articles on the foster care and what they do to help children who age out of the system. I will also research from other sources including scholarly articles and published journals and analyze if there are valid government policy that promotes effective transition out of the foster care.

Extending foster care to young adulthood through federal and State policy

Approximately 29,500 youth, ages 18 and older, leave foster care with limited independent living skills and without a permanent family or all critical factors needed to successful transition into adulthood (U.S Department of Health and Human Services). Unlike their counterparts, they have to make adult life decisions from obtaining stable employment or on how to financially support themselves, to finding affordable housing with limited.

Though child welfare workers across the US are currently working within local systems to help young people transition out of state custody, the passage of the “Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008”, created opportunities for states to further support the permanency and well-being of older youth in foster care. The law allows states to provide funded foster care to children up to age 21 (Reilly Thorn). If such a child is enrolled in school, is employed, a vocational program or has a mental condition that makes them unable to fulfill these requirements due to a medical condition, this option helps to facilitate an extension period of support for up to age 21. The guidance issued by the federal government encourages states to be flexible and innovative within the structure of the law where these new placements are concerned, to help best prepare youth who choose to remain in foster care to live independent, self-sufficient lives upon leaving the system at age. Another legislation that boosted transition of children out of foster care was the California’s AB 12 California’s Fostering Connections to Success Act (2010) enacted in California.

California’s transition age foster youth experienced the same challenges as their counterparts in other parts of the country. They were facing similar problems upon aging out of foster care. California has the largest foster care population in the United States. It was one of the first states to enact the federal Fostering Connections Act. In 2010, California enacted Assembly Bill 12 (AB 12) to implement the federal Fostering Connections Act which had to be later since amended to eliminate issues as they have emerged (Reilly Thorn).

However, important to note that extension of foster care acts as a temporary mitigation if there are no effective mechanisms in the facilities to equip the young adults with skills to sustain themselves when they move out of care.

Providing employment opportunities and addressing barriers to employment

Apart from enactments by the Federal and states governments that provide for the extension of foster care programs to young adulthood, one of other remedies that can smoothen the transition process would be providing employment opportunities and addressing barriers to employment. Most emancipated young adults require guidance for completing job applications or how to attain self-employment. Entrepreneurship skills, developing resumes, job interview preparation, and learning how to conduct themselves in a work environment appropriately is essential. Their peers in the general population whom may benefit from their parent’s networks when seeking jobs. Job-seeking guidance, equipping themselves with technical skills and work knowledge, opportunities to learn about career options, and mentoring that provides connections to employment are essential for transitioning foster youth to aid them to improve their long-term sustainability. Some child welfare agencies have partnered with public workforce investment systems, employers, and community colleges to provide such opportunities for transitioning foster youth. However, there are subgroups within the emancipated population with particular challenges in finding employment. For instance, research indicates that those who have been involved in the juvenile delinquency and adult criminal justice systems are less likely to be hired. The same predicament faces young mothers concerning employment due to their child-rearing duties as single parents. From this, we see the need for closer collaboration between child welfare agencies and criminal justice systems. We also observe also that is imperative that foster care homes induce basic entrepreneurship skills to the children through workshops. (Golanka)

Facilitating access to safe and affordable housing.

Efforts have been in place at the federal level to address the proliferation of homelessness and housing instability among the emancipated youths. The Federal policy allows States to spend federal funds on addressing housing issues for transitioning youth until age 21. Funds through the Department of Housing and Urban Development have been made available to provide limited rental assistance for some eligible foster youth. However, research shows that on the housing outcomes of youth who have aged out of care suggest that funds support is inadequate in this area given the scope of the problem. to support more youth with their housing needs, it is recommended to build partnerships among state and local housing authorities and community-based and nonprofit organizations to pool rental assistance subsidies and leverage resources from various affordable housing programs. Helping youth access health insurance and needed health services. Many foster youths are eligible for medical aid while in care. However, they are at risk of losing their eligibility the moment they turn 18. Federal government policy such as the Fostering Connections Act now allows states the option to extend Medicaid coverage for youth who have aged out of care, up to the of age 21. In 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act popularly known as the “Obama Care” sought to make this option mandatory up to age 26. (Elizabeth 48)

Its observed that even when these children age out care with health insurance eligibility, these young folks need assistance enrolling in public insurance programs and sustaining themselves within the coverage. Those with coverage require help and guidance in understanding health and mental health systems to receive the most suited coverage to their needs. Federal policy now requires states to develop and implement strategies that will address and oversee the coordination of health care services for youth in care.

Summary and Conclusion

Like many other young adults across the country, youth exiting foster care have dreams and aspirations. They too want to pursue higher education, run their own businesses, be absorbed into the jobs market, have their own apartments, have financial stability and ultimately live meaningful lives. Sadly, their dreams are impaired by many obstacles they need to overcome after leaving foster care. (Barth, 419-440)

Nonetheless, with support from the government and the community, they too, can realize their strengths, abilities, and talents to reach their goals. For a successful transition into adulthood, they need adequate preparation to exit the system. It is crucial that emancipated youths in foster be taken through a stable transition planning process that focuses on the development of independent living skills and addresses issues such as, safe, permanent and affordable housing, access to medical cover, education and employment opportunities. Federal policies such as the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 can be instrumental in preparing the young adults out of foster care to succeed as on their own.

Works cited

Ahmann, Elizabeth. “Supporting Youth Aging out of Foster Care.” Pediatric Nursing, vol. 43, no. 1, Jan/Feb2017, pp. 43-48.

Barth, Richard P. “On their own: The experiences of youth after foster care.” Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal 7.5 (1990): 419-440.

Courtney, Mark E., et al. “Foster youth transitions to adulthood: A longitudinal view of youth leaving care.” Child welfare 80.6 (2001): 685.

Driscoll, Jennifer. Transitions From Care to Independence: Supporting Young People Leaving State Care to Fulfil Their Potential. Routledge, 2017.

Golonka, S. (2010).

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Https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/youth_transition, Accessed on 11 Dec. 2017

Reilly, Thorn. “Transition from care: status and outcomes of youth who age out of foster care.” Child welfare 82.6 (2003)

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