Every day in America a teenager turns 18 years old. For some it means a new car, freedom, or the excitement of no longer needing your parents’ permission on serious decisions. For others its dreadful turning 18 because means that they have “aged out” of the foster care system with no afterward plans or support. Each year it is estimated that 20,000 young people age out and this is tragic because they have no one to turn to, they have no home to go to and they are forced into adulthood before they are mentally/physically ready and they still need assistance. In the governments eyes being 18 means there able to get a full time job, own a house or car… Their legal, so what do they kids need us for? We have other kids to worry about also. But how could these kids possibly be able to face the real world when most of their lives, have been consumed of trauma and distress, dependent on a system that can sometimes have them from home to home or with a parent who doesn’t truly care for them. Once out of the foster care they end up homeless since shelters can only get you so far, no guarantee on their next meal, no health care because of insufficient money or lack of insurance, or little to no clothes. In 2009 it was reported that after leaving 54% earned a high school diploma, 2% obtained a Bachelor’s degree or higher, 84% became a parent, 51% were unemployed, 30% had no health insurance, 25% had been homeless, and 30% were receiving public assistance. There aren’t too many programs around that help our teenagers’ in foster care transition from being cared for to caring for themselves.
It is the foster parents responsibility to prepare the children to leave foster care. Penns Senator LeAnna Washington says “The issue [of aging out] needs to be addressed earlier on so that the foster child can start to prepare,” she says. “Otherwise, when the child turns 18, they may come home from school and their foster mother might tell them, without the funding, they can’t stay...
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