Foster youth : emancipation into society

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Southern New Hampshire University
An emancipated youth is a child that has reached the maximum age of 18 in the foster system and is no longer a ward of the state. In various cases some foster youth can stay in the system until the age of 21, if necessary, but as a general rule, 18 is the year most youth age out of the system. In most cases children are placed in foster care by a child protective case worker when it has been determined that a child is unsafe to remain at home due to various risks. These risks include neglect, maltreatment or physical and sexual abuse. Children who have been in the foster care system are more likely to exhibit high levels of emotional and behavioral problems. It is not unlikely that during a youth’s time in the foster care system, they will have been to various foster or group home placements, as well as having been a part of various school systems. Research and statistics show that a successful transition to adulthood is often seen as very difficult for youth whom have endured time in the foster care system. The important question is, “Are foster care youth prepared for living on their own, once they have emancipated from the foster care system?” The youth that, ‘age out’ of the system do not receive the adequate training and resources to prepare them for life on their own. Research that has been conducted shows everything that youth are lacking, but there has been little research or follow up on why youth are not receiving the adequate services before emancipation. The research shows what youth need to maintain a sustainable lifestyle, but why are youth not receiving the adequate training and resources to allow them to leave the system and ready for life on their own? Essentially, the inadequate availability of resources leads to homelessness in the first weeks of leaving the foster care system, as well as incarceration, substance abuse and pregnancy. In most cases youth emancipate from the system at 18 years of age and many have nowhere to turn to and little support or access to any form of help. The goal of this research and project is to determine, whether or not youth are prepared for life on their own as they leave the foster care system; determining what youth need to achieve economic sustainability, financial literacy, job attainment and a safe living environment. (Author abstract)