In 2011, more than 26,000 children in foster care aged out of the system.
These young men and women left foster care not because they were reunited with their families or adopted, but simply because they were too old to remain in care.
Of the 400,000 children in foster care currently, over 20,000 have a case goal of emancipation.
The percentage of youth that age out of foster care has increased. In 2000, the percentage of exits due to aging out was 7 percent. In 2011, 11 percent of the children who exited foster care aged out.
Without family or any other dependable adults to rely on for assistance, these young people are at high risk of homelessness, joblessness, illness, incarceration, welfare dependency, early childbearing, and sexual and physical victimization.
According to various studies across the country of young people who have aged out of foster care without a permanent family:
- 12-30 percent struggled with homelessness
- 40-63 percent did not complete high school
- 25-55 percent were unemployed; those employed had average earnings below the poverty level, and only 38 percent of those employed were still working after one year
- 30-62 percent had trouble accessing health care due to inadequate finances or lack of insurance
- 32-40 percent were forced to rely on some form of public assistance and 50 percent experienced extreme financial hardship
- 31-42 percent had been arrested
- 18-26 percent were incarcerated
- 40-60 percent of the young women were pregnant within 12-18 months of leaving foster care.
- Read more facts about foster care in the U.S.
- Learn about the role of child welfare systems in providing care and services for children in state custody.
- Find out how Children’s Rights improves failing foster care system through our child welfare reform campaigns and policy advocacy.