You’re Nothing More Than a Foster Child!

This was sent to me by a youth who has been in foster care for the past 7 years and will age out next March with no family or support network to go to. It breaks my heart that things I expereinced and thoughts I had over 40 years ago remain a constant in so many of the lives of youth in care today. Society should hang their heads in shame.

UPDATE: I have just received notice that the young man who sent me this is NOT the author of the article. I apologize to the author and wish to give her proper credit. The actual author is Catherine Daniels, a young woman who spent years in foster care. I am sorry I did not verify if the young man who sent this to me was in fact the author.

 

Imagine…

Being the last person to sit down to the table for dinner because you aren’t the biological or adopted child… You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Watching the other children get new shoes/clothes/toys but you have to wait on a “check” because you aren’t the biological or adopted child… You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Getting left behind while the rest of the house goes on vacation or visits a major theme park because you aren’t the biological or adopted child… You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Not wanting to unpack your bags and put things away because you never know when you might be up and moved again because you aren’t the biological or adopted child… You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Sleeping on the couch or porch, with storage bins and trash bags storing your belongings with no personal space to call your own because you aren’t the biological or adopted child… You’re nothing more than a foster child.

When you move you don’t have a suitcase as other children but rather garbage bags because you aren’t the biological or adopted child… You’re nothing more than a foster child.
Not having surgery your doctor recommended because it needs to go through a board for approval before it can be done because you aren’t the biological or adopted child… You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Getting a CD, book, and candy bar as christmas while the rest of the children got DVD players, Walkmans, bikes, etc because you aren’t the biological or adopted child… You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Running away, crossing county, state or even country lines and having no one look for you or report you missing because you aren’t the biological or adopted child… You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Having someone start to care about you, and start to form an attachment only to be up and moved simply because someone decided a different home would be better for you for God knows what reason because you aren’t the biological or adopted child… You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Having a school refuse to re-enroll you for the seventh time in ONE school year. You’re nothing more than a foster child. 

Having doctors offices leave your address blank because it changes so many times. You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Not making friends because you never know when you’ll be up and moved.
You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Refusing to take school pictures because you know you won’t be there at the end of the year. You’re nothing more than a foster child.

Hardening your heart to attachments because you know how quick they disappear. You’re nothing more than a foster child.

When one lives for years within the foster care system, experiences numerous moves and maybe even things worse than that because “You’re nothing more than a foster child”…how can society expect one to form relationships and attachments or even trust others?

This is the life of one who is “Nothing more than a foster child!”

Foster Care Data for FY2006

The United States Foster Care System

 

FY2006 Foster Care Data

The U. S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children & Families collects data each year from the states as to their foster care system. This, along with other resources provide for the base of this analysis. There is usually a 2 year lapse in this data collection; thus this data is from FY 2006…the last fiscal year that data is fully available.

In FY2006:

The U.S. spent $22 billion dollars ($5 billion from the Federal government and the balance from state/county governments) to provide services for children and youth in foster care. This averages out to $40,000 per child.

303,000 youth entered foster care

799,000 youth spent some portion of FY2006 in foster care

209,000 youth exited foster care via reunification, adoption, runaway, aged out, etc

129,000 awaiting adoption

77,000 had TPR completed

26,517 youth aged out

509 youth while in state care

51,000 adopted by foster parents or others

510,000 remained in care at end of FY2006

Placement settings of youth in foster care during FY2006:

Pre-Adoptive Home 3% 17,351
Foster Family Home (Relative) 24% 124,571
Foster Family Home (Non-Relative) 46% 236,911
Group Home 7% 33,433
Institution 10% 53,042
Supervised Independent Living 1% 5,872
Runaway 2% 12,213
Trial Home Visit 5% 26,606

 Case goals of the youth in foster care FY 2006:

     
Reunify with Parent(s) or Principal Caretaker(s) 49% 248,054
Live with Other Relative(s) 4% 20,359
Adoption 23% 117,380
Long Term Foster Care 9% 43,773
Emancipation 6% 30,662
Guardianship 4% 20,945
Case Plan Goal Not Yet Established 6% 28,827

 Outcomes for the children exiting foster care during FY 2006:

Reunification with Parent(s) or Primary Caretaker(s) 53% 154,103
Living with Other Relative(s) 11% 30,751
Adoption 17% 50,379
Emancipation 9% 26,517
Guardianship 5% 15,010
Transfer to Another Agency 2% 6,683
Runaway 2% 5,049
Death of Child 0% 509

 

 

 NOTE

: Deaths are attributable to a variety of causes including medical conditions, accidents and homicide.(NOTE: totals do not equal per the US DHHS due to how states submit their data)

 Of the youth entering foster care in FY2006 the percentage based on age is as follows:

Less than 1 Year 6% 30,418
1 Year 7% 34,344
2 Years 6% 30,367
3 Years 5% 26,966
4 Years 5% 24,384
5 Years 5% 23,021
6 Years 4% 21,574
7 Years 4% 20,760
8 Years 4% 20,025
9 Years 4% 19,263
10 Years 4% 18,958
11 Years 4% 19,475
12 Years 4% 21,532
13 Years 5% 25,706
14 Years 6% 30,949
15 Years 8% 38,259
16 Years 8% 42,272
17 Years 8% 39,624
18 Years 3% 13,303
19 Years 1% 5,488
20 Years 1% 3,316

 The lengths of stay in foster care for youth in care at the end of FY23006 are:

Less than 1 Month 5% 24,312
1 to 5 Months 19% 97,990
6 to 11 Months 18% 90,875
12 to 17 Months 13% 67,689
18 to 23 Months 9% 46,109
24 to 29 Months 7% 35,047
30 to 35 Months 5% 25,219
3 to 4 Years 11% 55,671
5 Years or More 13% 67,088

 The 10 states with the most youth of foster care at the end of FY2006 are:

1. California

2. New York

3. Florida

4. Texas

5. Pennsylvania

6. Michigan

7. Illinois

8. Ohio

9. Georgia

10. Massachusetts

Race/Ethnicity of youth in care:

AI/AN-Non Hispanic 2% 10,168
Asian-Non Hispanic 1% 2,978
Black -Non Hispanic 32% 162,722
Hawaiian/ PI-Non Hispanic 0% 1,104
Hispanic 19% 96,967
White-Non Hispanic 40% 205,662
Unknown/Unable to Determine 2% 11,286
Two or More-Non Hispanic 4% 19,112

 Gender Percentage:

Male 52% 267,027
Female 48% 242,973

 Foster Homes Available:

In 2006, there were 160,000 licensed non relative foster homes nationwide.

None of the above data includes the more than 2 million U.S. children living with grandparents or other relatives because their parents cannot care for them but are not part of the foster care system. When relatives provide care it is known as kinship care.

There are currently 129,000 youth who are eligible for adoption at the end of FY2006 after 51,000 youth were adopted in FY 2005. The data does NOT include youth age 16 and over who are eligible for adoption but whose case plan is for them to age out of the system. The rate of adoption of youth from care has remained fairly stagnant the past five fiscal years. This is an increase of 15,000 youth awaiting adoption over FY2005.

Age percentages of those waiting for adoption at end of FY2006 are:

Less than 1 Year 4% 5,102
1 Year 9% 11,023
2 Years 8% 10,420
3 Years 7% 9,463
4 Years 6% 8,362
5 Years 6% 7,840
6 Years 6% 7,150
7 Years 5% 6,978
8 Years 5% 6,688
9 Years 5% 6,372
10 Years 5% 6,208
11 Years 5% 6,267
12 Years 5% 6,473
13 Years 5% 6,844
14 Years 5% 6,907
15 Years 6% 7,207
16 Years 4% 5,607
17 Years 3% 4,089

 Lengths of stay for those youth awaiting adoption at end of FY2006 are:

Days-11 months 13%

12-23 months 25%

24-35 months 23%

36-5 years or more 42%

Age percentages for those youth that were adopted from foster care during FY2006 are:

0-5 years 53%

6-10 years 28%

11-14 years 14%

15 year-up 5%

The above data clearly shows the older the youth is and the longer the youth remains in care the less opportunity they will have to be adopted and instead will age of out the system.

 

Top 10 states with the great number of youth adopted from foster care during FY2006 are:

1. California

2. New York

3. Texas

4. Florida

5. Michigan

6. Pennsylvania

7. Ohio

8. New Jersey

9. Missouri

10. Illinois

 

 

The 10 states with the greatest number of youth in foster care but eligible for adoption at the end of FY2006 are:

1. Texas

2. New York

3. Florida

4. Michigan

5. New Jersey

6. Ohio

7. California

8. Oklahoma

9. Pennsylvania

10. Illinois

In FY2005 26,517 (this is up 2,210 from FY2005) youth aged out of the foster care system. Many are only 18 years old and still need support and services. Several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these older youth often are left vulnerable to a host of adverse situations. Based on previous studies done over the past number of years these youth will face the following:

Will earn a high school diploma 54%

Will obtain BA or higher 2%

Will become a parent 12-18 months after discharge 84%

Will experience unemployment 51%

Will have no health insurance 30%

Will become homeless 25%

Will receiving public assistance 30%

Will experience the justice system 27%

There is vital data missing from what the states report to the federal government (or the state does not provide this data) which would prove vital in analyzing the foster care system and the potential damage caused to youth in care. They are:

1. The number of placements the youth experienced while in care. This is vital as it has been shown the more the placements the higher the possibility of damage to the youth.

* Children have on average three different foster care placements. The longer a child or youth remains in foster care the more moves. Frequent moves in and out of the homes of strangers as well as new schools can be profoundly unsettling for children, and it is not uncommon to hear of children who have been in 20 or 30 different homes or 5 to 7 new schools. Many have been separated not only from their parents, but from their siblings.

*Casey Family Programs National Center for Resource Family Support

 

2. The percentage of lengths of stay and age percentage for each state. This would show how each state is doing in complying (or not) with the AFSA of 1997 in regards to the 15 months out of 22 months rule.

3. Data be furnished indicating exact number of youth aging out of the system each year from each state rather than just the total count nationwide.