May is Foster Care Awareness Month

05.13.20

May is a month dedicated to shining a light on the foster care system but also a time to recognize that we each can play a part in enhancing the lives of system involved youth.  According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation Transition-Age Youth report there were 1,452 youth ages 14 and over in Nebraska’s foster care system in 2018, which represents approximately 23% of all youth in foster care.  Additionally, 213 youth remained in foster care at their 18th birthday and 97 at their 19th birthday.  Lingering in foster care, experiencing unstable placement setting while in foster care and leaving foster care without a permanent, legal connection to a family are important indicators of how youth in Nebraska are faring.  Statewide 42% of young adults in care are aging out without permanency.  This statistic alone makes the case for why the mission of The HUB Central Access Point for Young Adults is a much-needed resource in our community.

Unconnected young adults are more likely than their peers to drop out of school, become parents, experience homelessness or become incarcerated. Young people with system involvement face unique challenges to educational achievement in part due to mobility rates and grade/credit retention between districts.  In the state of Nebraska only 58% of youth with system involvement have completed their high school diploma or equivalency by age 21 while their peers that do not have system involvement have a 92% completion rate by age 21. Lacking a high school diploma or equivalency is associate with increased risk of unemployment; 75% of young adults are employed by age 21 however for those unconnected young adults only 62% are employed by age 21. By age 21 only 58% of unconnected young adults are in stable housing while 70% of their peers have achieved this milestone. Finally, those who become parents in their teen years and early 20’s are confronted with a harsh reality where the odds are stacked against their ability to earn, learn & raise a family which threatens their children’s future and perpetuates a cycle of family instability. (statistics from Annie E Casey Foundation 2018 NE Transitions Profile). Closing these gaps in the areas of education, early parenting and juvenile justice could have a significant financial impact on our community. Nationally, costs avoided if young people transition from care with the needed support tops $4.1 Billion (Annie E Casey Future Saving report 2019). The HUB provides opportunities to change the trajectory for unconnected young adults through unconditional support, programming and resources targeted to increase the likelihood of achieving stability and becoming active, independent members of our community.

Concrete supports are imperative to navigate the transition to adulthood. The HUB empowers participants to advocate for themselves, assists with learning supports and resources and provides additional caring adults in the lives of participants.  Our community is fortunate to have many resources however navigating the available resources can be confusing for anyone especially for those young people that are aging out of the child welfare system and are separated from the supports and services they have come to know.   The HUB’s Central Access Navigator assists young people to determine the supports and services available and ensure that a customized system of supports is assembled.  Assistance available to young adults includes:  access to emergency needs-based funds, youth eviction prevention programming, financial literacy & budgeting assistance.

If you would like to learn more about how you could support young adults transitioning from system care please contact The HUB at 402.471.8526.