A couple weeks ago, I was talking with a new friend who worked and lived for years with men and women who were chronically homeless. She shared something their team always said: If you want to tackle homelessness, work with youth aging out of foster care.
Foster care and homelessness (along with a number of other social issues) are tightly linked.
Around 1 in 4 young men and women will be homeless within two to four years of exiting foster care. (National Alliance to End Homelessness)
Foster youth are 14 times more likely not to complete college than the general population (Chapin Hall Midwest Study).
The unemployment rate among former foster care youth is 47% (Chapin Hall Midwest Study).
About 25% of foster care alumni experience post-traumatic stress (compared to 4% of the general population) (Northwest Foster Care Alumni Survey).
But while the numbers tell quite a story, statistics can feel overwhelming or intangible. In my case, I didn’t think much about the foster care system until I got to know people who were a part of it. Teaching high school 10 years ago, I had some students in foster care and some who were homeless. Their realities floored me. A couple of those students made a lasting impact, launching me on a journey to learn more and birthing a desire to get involved in the future.
I think of myself when I turned 18—with my family supporting me socially, financially, and emotionally as I started my first year of college. I can’t imagine leaving home (or not having a permanent home) at this age and suddenly being responsible for figuring everything out. Could I have continued my education, found work, secured housing, gotten connected to a community?
I’m excited that Second Rise can play a very minor role in supporting youth aging out of foster care, and our aim is to do more. Thank you for helping equip others in our community!