April 2018Vol. 19, No. 3Youth Leaving Foster Care Need Help Accessing Education, Employment Opportunities
Young people exiting the foster care system need and benefit from help with educational and employment opportunities as they transition into adulthood, according to a new brief from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The brief emphasizes that there are specific subsets of this population, such as youth who have grown up in group foster care facilities and those who are beginning their adulthood as teenage parents, who are at a greater disadvantage when it comes to making their way in the world. The authors emphasize that these vulnerable groups need policies, programs, and support that can help them gain the work experience necessary for independence.
The brief, The Economic Well-Being of Youth Transitioning From Foster Care: Opportunity Passport Participant Survey Results Show Employment Helps Many Thrive, looks at employment data from Opportunity Passport participants and provides recommendations for policymakers and youth service providers. Employment characteristics measured include full-time status, rates, average hours worked, hourly wages, and training opportunities. The Opportunity Passport program, a project of the Casey Foundation's Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, is a matched-savings program that seeks to help youth transitioning from foster care into adulthood achieve financial stability.
Looking at age, gender, and parenthood status for Opportunity Passport participants, survey analysts measured improvement in the statistics and compared them with similar data from the general population and from other studies concerning youth transitioning from foster care. Key survey findings include the following:
- Opportunity Passport participants are doing better than their counterparts in the general population and National Youth in Transition Database respondents.
- White participants between the ages and 16 and 18 were more likely to experience employment progression than their Black peers. While that gap narrowed between ages 19 and 21, Black participants still lagged behind their White peers.
- Young parents did not experience the same economic progression as their nonparent peers, and parenthood was associated with limited opportunity across all age groups.
- Youth who had experienced more foster care placements did not experience the same amount of economic progression between ages 19 and 21 as those who had fewer placements.
The brief is available from the Casey Foundation at http://www.aecf.org/resources/the-economic-well-being-of-youth-transitioning-from-foster-care/.