July/August 2009Vol. 10, No. 6The Case for Investing in Youth
A recent report funded by the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative suggests that investing in youth aging out of foster care would reap benefits not only in humanitarian terms but also in financial benefits to the nation's economy. Cost Avoidance: Bolstering the Economic Case for Investing in Youth Aging Out of Foster Care argues that a "business case" needs to be made to show the economic advantages of a large-scale intervention with this population.
The report looks at three specific areas where youth aging out of foster care traditionally fare more poorly than other youth: education, family formation, and criminal justice. Data show that achieving optimal outcomes in these three areas could translate into more than a $5 billion savings to the economy for each annual cohort of youth leaving care. Specifically:
- One cohort year that does not graduate at the rate of the general population experiences decreased earnings over a working life equal to almost $750 million.
- One cohort year of unplanned parenthood costs more than $115 million.
- One cohort year of costs for a criminal career adds up to approximately $4.8 billion.
The authors discuss the conservative cost of over $5 billion per cohort year as the "cost of bad outcomes," suggesting that improved outcomes—such as better graduation rates, delayed pregnancies, and significant reductions in criminal activity—would produce large-scale savings and a substantial return on public and private investments.
To access the full paper, Cost Avoidance: Bolstering the Economic Case for Investing in Youth Aging Out of Foster Care, by Cutler Consulting, visit the Jim Casey Youth website: