Aging Out of Foster Care

Aging Out of Foster Care

This is not a topic we typically think about, much less discuss. But there is a tsunami of kids in foster care in our country. Right now there are 440,000 kids (almost half a million) currently in foster care in the US and more than 8 million worldwide (according to Did you ever wonder what happens to these children if they don’t get adopted? It’s called aging out of foster care and it isn’t pretty.

Nationally, about 32,000 kids ages newborn – 17 are placed in foster care each year. And New Jersey has a disproportionate amount of the total with more than 3,600 kids currently living in foster homes (that’s more than 10%).

440,00 youth in foster care

How Children End Up in Foster Care

To be removed from one’s family there has to be some type of neglect or abuse reported to the Division of Youth and Family Services. In turn, they visit the home and if they observe abuse and/or neglect they apply for a court order forcing the child (or in many cases children) to be removed. Often times foster kids shuffle from one foster home to another until they turn 18, at which point they literally age out of the system (termed emancipated). This means the state no longer is financially responsible to provide shelter, food, and other necessary essentials.

I don’t know about you, but at 18 I was definitely not ready to be living on my own as a responsible adult. At that age, I had just graduated high school and all I could think about was how happy I was to be out.

The Facts About Kids Aging Out of Foster Care

Nationally, approximately 23,000 kids age out of the system each year. And since New Jersey has roughly 10% of the total population – that means 2,300 18-year-olds are emancipated without family support, education, and community relationships that help them make successful transitions to adulthood.

Foster care kids typically endure traumatic childhoods filled with abandonment issues, low self-esteem, abuse, and insecurity. And at the tender age of 18, they are expected to magically become self-sufficient adults including finding a job, housing, furniture, and paying their monthly bills. Try paying rent in New Jersey on a minimum wage salary. It’s impossible.

The cold hard facts about kids who are emancipated are:

  • More than one in five will become homeless after age 18
  • Only 58 percent will graduate high school by age 19 (compared to 87 percent of all 19-year-olds)
  • 71 percent of young women are pregnant by 21, facing higher rates of unemployment, criminal conviction, public assistance, and involvement in the child welfare system
  • At the age of 24, only half are employed
  • Fewer than 3 percent will earn a college degree by age 25 (compared to 28 percent of all 25-year-olds)
Reveal to Heal
Reveal to Heal

Try searching for programs dedicated to helping these young adults and you will find only one in the state of New Jersey. But there is one person dedicated to changing that. Octavia Bradley, CEO of a non-profit titled Reveal to Heal. There are many legs to this organization, but a key focus is assisting youth aging out of foster care (as she personally did).

In addition to offering mental health services, workshops, and mentorships to these vulnerable teens, she is now taking a giant step forward with the goal of creating the Rise N Hope House. A first of its kind, it will be a transitional home for youth and young adults aging out of foster care where they can live for free and receive career, educational, and financial consulting as well as mental health services by trained professionals.

Rise N Hope House

Help For Emancipated Youth

As a child advocate and the Community Manager of Reveal To Heal, I am dedicated to helping her see this mission through. I have a leadership role in the first fundraising event for Rise N Hope House. 100% of donations from this special event will go towards the purchase of a home in either Essex or Union County and converting it into a safe haven and life skills training resource.

I am organizing the Rise N Hope House Gala which takes place on September 3oth, 2023 at the beautiful Blue Rose Venue in Caldwell, NJ. The event will feature an art showcase produced by foster care kids, dinner, dancing, live DJ, and a live auction.

While most readers can’t possibly attend the event, please consider digging deep to donate to this worthy cause and help us give orphaned teens a better chance to thrive in the adult world.

Amy Sandelman Harris My Blog

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Published by Amy Sandelman Harris

Welcome to our community. I use my voice on my blog to affect change through philanthropy, advocacy, and activism. My blog is meant to inspire people to get involved.

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