• June 2008
  • Vol. 9, No. 5

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Employment Outcomes After Foster Care

Studies of former foster youth who aged of out of care have shown that these youth often experience high unemployment, unstable employment patterns, and low incomes in the period between their 18th and 21st birthdays. Now, a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) finds that these poor employment outcomes are likely to continue into the youths' mid-twenties.

The study was conducted by linking child welfare, unemployment insurance, and public assistance administrative data for more than 3,300 youth who aged out of foster care in California, Minnesota, and North Carolina. Youth were assessed from age 16 to 24. Compared to youth nationally and even youth from low-income families, youth who aged out of the foster care system were less likely to be employed or employed regularly, and any earned income tended to be minimal.

The report also made recommendations for helping former foster youth maximize their employment potential:

  • Youth may need support connecting to the labor market or maintaining access to adult services, even after age 21.
  • Helping youth connect to the workforce prior to age 18 may have benefits later on.
  • Youth who are initially connected, connected later, or never connected to the labor market may all need different types of services.

The full report, Coming of Age: Employment Outcomes for Youth Who Age Out of Foster Care Through Their Middle Twenties, can be found on the ASPE website:

http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/08/fosteremp/report.pdf (414 - KB)

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