Helping Older Youth Secure Successful Futures
Published: February 13, 2017
SAFY older youth services promotes independence, wellness and success for older youth and young adults aging out of foster care.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that approximately 20,000 youth age out of and exit foster care each year. Exits may be positive, when youth are emancipated to independent living or return to their families, while others have less positive outcomes, resulting in incarceration, hospitalization or even homelessness. The statistics seem dire.
- 1 in 5 will become homeless
- Only 50 percent will be employed by age 24
- Less than 3 percent will earn a college degree
- 71 percent of females will be pregnant by age 21
- 1 in 4 will experience PTSD
Some states require youth to exit the foster care system by age 18, while others allow youth to remain up to age 21. According to a manuscript released by the National Institutes of Health Public Access, evidence suggests that allowing youth to remain in the foster care network until age 21 offers many benefits and has led to renewed interest in increasing the age of exit in many states.
In a brief issued by the University of Chicago, conclusions suggest that the financial benefits (both for youth and society) of extending foster care outweigh costs to government by 2 to 1. But beyond financial benefits, research suggests extending care through age 21 is associated with an increase in educational attainment, as well.
While many youth choose to leave or be discharged when they become of age, some others feel they are released by court or case managers’ recommendations and do not feel prepared to be on their own. That’s why SAFY offers a specific focus on older youth services.
SAFY older youth services help kids to succeed
Beginning at age 12, the goal is for youth to learn age appropriate skills they need to transition to successful adulthood. From maintaining healthy relationships to goal setting, SAFY helps older youth to develop good habits and decision making skills.
SAFY foster parents and therapeutic foster parents serve as positive role models and mentors for older youth, providing support, structure and encouragement for every child in our care.
From a library of family resources to training and service coordination support, SAFY serves more than 13,000 families and children each year, providing care that prepares them to handle life’s challenges and allows them to thrive and experience success.
Read Matt’s story, who entered foster care at age 13 and benefited from SAFY’s older youth program.