Thousands of Foster Teens Are in Danger and Society Does Not Care

A teen is in danger as you read this.

A teen’s life depends upon your response.

The late teenage years are a difficult time for any teenager. Sure, it is a time of independence, freedom, and change — at least it is in the eyes of many when they reach that magic age. It is a time of moving out of a home, finding a job, joining the military, and going off to college. Typically, children from traditional homes have parents who are able to guide them through these changes, providing help and advice as these 18-year-olds determine the next stage in their lives. Along with this, most young adults are still able to rely on their parents not only for good advice, but for help financially, as well. Foster children, though, do not have these resources, these lifelines so to speak, to help out as they try to ease into their own lives of independence. When they are sick, there is no one to take care of them. Struggling in college? Often, there is no one to help them with their studies. Car broken down? Most former foster children have no one to turn to for help. Yet, does anyone care to help?

Carly Fraser’s 19th birthday was not one to celebrate. Instead, turning 19 years old spelled tragedy to the Canadian teen. One day after aging out of the foster care system in the state of British Columbia, the troubled teen threw herself off a bridge, ending her life. Aging out filled her with dread, and she found solace the only way she knew how, by ending her life.

Being placed in a foster home is bad enough for a foster child. Sadly, for far too many foster children, leaving the foster care system is even more traumatic. As a foster child reaches the age of 18, in most states, the child “ages out” of the foster system, and begins the transition into “the real world.” Each year, between 20,000 to 25,000 foster children age out of the system and attempt to begin life on their own. Of the roughly 450,000 children in care in the United States each year, this is a large number and disturbing percentage. For many foster children, foster care is a temporary service before returning home to a parent, moving in with a biological family member, or even beginning a new life in an adopted home. Yet, for thousands who do not find reunification with family in their lives, reaching 18 years of age can be a tremendously frightening experience. For others, 21 is the year where they may find themselves no longer part of the foster care system, depending upon the state the foster children reside in. Yet, so few are willing to help.

For most young adults leaving home for the first time, they have someone to rely on when facing challenges, difficulties, and trials. Whether the problems are financial, emotional, school oriented, or simply a flat tire that needs to be fixed, most young adults can pick up a phone and call an adult who is quick to help. Foster children who age out of the system many times do not have this type of support, no one to call; no one who can come to their aid. Foster children who age out of the system face an array of problems and challenges. Too often, these children have already faced such hardships as neglect, abuse, learning disabilities, and abandonment. Along with this, the majority of foster children have difficulties with school, with over fifty percent of those who age out dropping out of school. Indeed, only two percent of all foster children who age out graduate from college. Lack of financial skills, work experiences, social skills, and various forms of training, along with the lack of support from family and caring adults makes it even more problematic.

As a result of these obstacles and challenges, most foster children who age out of the system find themselves at risk in several ways. To begin with, when foster children leave the foster care system, they often have no place to call home. Over half of all youth who age out of the system end up being homeless at one point at least once in their young lives. As they struggle with financial problems, finding a safe and stable place to call home is often hard. Too many foster children are forced to turn to the streets for a time. If they are fortunate, they may end up in a homeless shelter, but this is tragically often not the case. It was not for Carly Fraser.

For most young adults leaving home for the first time, they have someone to rely on when facing challenges, difficulties, and trials. Whether the problems are financial, emotional, school oriented, or simply a flat tire that needs to be fixed, most young adults can pick up a phone and call an adult who is quick to help. Foster children who age out of the system many times do not have this type of support, no one to call; no one who can come to their aid; no one to pray for them. Foster children who age out of the system face an array of problems and challenges. As you know, and have probably witnessed, too often these children have already faced such hardships as neglect, abuse, learning disabilities, and abandonment. Along with this, the majority of foster children have difficulties with school, with over fifty percent of those who age out dropping out of school. Indeed, only two percent of all foster children who age out graduate from college. That is a disturbing statistic. Lack of financial skills, work experiences, social skills, and various forms of training, along with the lack of support from family and caring adults makes it even more problematic.

Perhaps the biggest impact you can make with those who have aged out of the system is to become an advocate of change. By contacting lawmakers, politicians, and publicity agents through means of emails, letters, phone calls, and other means of communication, you can bring attention to the needs of these young adults who are facing a series of challenges after leaving the foster care system. Along with this, you can bring about change by posting information in editorial letters, websites, public forums, and so forth. By lobbying for change, new laws can be introduced, and information can be brought forward to the general public. Will you be that advocate, or will you turn your head the other way, and wait for somebody else to do it? A teen’s life depends upon your time; a teens life depends upon your answer.

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