Currently, there are over 400,00 children in the United States foster care system. Each year more children become available for adoption than are adopted. For example, in 2009 over 69,000 children were up for adoption but only 57,000 were adopted. According to a November 2010 article at SFGate.com, children often wait 3 or more years to be adopted, move 3 or more times in foster care and are often separated from siblings. While the average age of a 'waiting' child is 8 years old, approximately 20,000 young people leave the foster care system each year without an adoptive family.
While in foster care, youth receive services such as food, housing, transportation and medical care. If not adopted by age 18, a young person in foster care "ages out" of the system and loses all of his or her foster care services. Many are left to fend for themselves without any support. Likely due in part to a lack of support, people who age out of the foster care system are more likely to experience negative outcomes.
- 84.8% do not have a high school diploma or GED
- 22% are homeless
- 33.2% are below the poverty line
- 25% are involved in crime
- 54.4% have behavioral/emotional issues, school problems and mental and physical health issues
- 50% experience early pregnancy
- Only 33 percent have health insurance
- Only 20% complete college
Because of the high rates of negative outcomes more needs to be done to ensure that young people who have been in the foster care system do not fall through the cracks. If this issue is ignored, the United States will continue to have a population of people with little opportunity for success.