Foster Youth Outcomes
An overwhelming majority of the 400,000 youth in foster care face abysmal outcomes once they age out of care. We have a multitude of laws that seek to provide foster youth the resources and supports needed to successfully transition to adulthood. Yet, only half graduate high school, and less than three percent go on to earn a college degree. Instead, more than half end up homeless, incarcerated, or on welfare within two years of aging out of care.
These painfully poor outcomes are almost guaranteed by widespread home and school instability, and the resulting revolving door of inconsistent adults who are not invested in the youths’ futures. Foster youth move homes and transfer schools an average of 6 times, losing up to 6 months of learning after each transfer.
By third grade, over 80% of foster youth are behind at least one grade level. Stunted brain development caused by multiple traumatic incidents results in a majority of foster youth requiring special education supports. Unfortunately, many youth are never assessed for special education because of school instability. Foster youth experience higher levels of school push out than their peers because schools do not understand how to support youth affected by trauma, and these youth do not have adults who advocate for them in school. Foster youth are three times more likely than their peers to be expelled from their schools. By the time they reach 11th or 12th grade, foster youth have an average reading level of 7th grade, lacking the basic literacy skills for higher education admissions and employment. While over 80 percent of foster youth want to attend college or university, the inadequacies of the foster care system deprive them the supports to transform those hopes into reality.
There is not one solution or formula that will work for all of our foster youth; however, the Foster Youth Academies offer an innovative and holistic model that emphasizes and supports education while promoting meaningful connections as our youth transition into adulthood.
Estimated Annual Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect (April 2012)
A Prevent Child Abuse America Report by Richard J. Gelles and Staci Perlman
Prevent Child Abuse America in 2012 published its third report estimating the costs of child abuse and neglect. This latest report, by Richard J. Gelles and Staci Perlman, estimate $80 Billion in total annual costs of child abuse and neglect for 2012.
The calculation uses the same direct and indirect cost categories as the previous estimate, Estimated Annual Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States, Wang and Holton, Prevent Child Abuse America (2007). The specific estimate is as follows:
Direct cost: $33,333,619,510
- Actual medical treatment- treating trauma or joint disorders: $2,907,592,094
- Mental health care system- treating physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and educational neglect: $1,153,978,175.
- Child welfare system- public child welfare expenditures: $29,237,770,193.
- Law enforcement- police services for intervention for child maltreatment $34,279,048
Indirect cost: $46,926,791,578
- Early intervention- children birth to five years in the child welfare system require early intervention services: $247,804,537
- Special education- children with learning disorder that require special education services: $826,174,734
- Emergency/Transitional housing- abused children are disproportionately more likely than their peers to experience adult homelessness: $1,606,866,538
- Mental health and health care- cost of physical and mental health care for victims of physical or sexual abuse: $270,864,199.
- Juvenile delinquency- administrative costs associated with arrest, adjudication, and incarceration: $3,416,149,283.
- Adult criminal justice costs- 13% of all violent crime can be attributed to early child maltreatment: $32,724,767,699.
- Lost worker productivity- mistreated children are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed: $7,834,164,589.
Total cost = direct cost $33,333,619,510 + indirect cost $46,926,791,578 = $80,260,411,087
Reference: Gelles, Richard J., & Perlman, Staci (2012). Estimated Annual Cost of Child Abuse and Neglect. Chicago IL: Prevent Child Abuse America, available at http://www.preventchildabuse.org/images/research/PCA_COM2012.pdf
Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics, compiled June 2015
Although the U.S. is ranked first in gross domestic product globally,[i] it is:
- 26th of 29 among developed nations based on measures of child welfare.[ii]
- 25th of 27 among developed nations based on the rate of child deaths from abuse and neglect.[iii]
How many children are abused and neglected in the U.S.?
- In 2013, 3.9 million children were referred to Child Protective Services (CPS).[iv]
- In 2013, 679,000 children were determined to be victims of abuse or neglect.[v]
What type of maltreatment did these children suffer?
- 80% were victims of neglect.vi
- 18 % were victims of physical abuse.vii
* Children that suffer from multiple forms of abuse were counted for each.
Who suffered maltreatment?
- Children age three and under are most likely to be victims of abuse and neglect. viii
- 34% of child victims are 3 years old or younger. ix
How many children in the U.S. died from abuse and neglect? Do States release this information?
- There were an estimated 1,520 child fatality victims in 2013 due to maltreatment in the U.S.,x an average of 29 children per week.
- 74% of child fatalities were under three years old. xi
- 46.5% were less than one year old. xii
- 37% of states restrict information on child deaths and near deaths. xiii
- 79% of child fatalities involved parents. xiv
How much does child abuse and neglect cost in the U.S.?
- Annual estimated direct cost of medical care for child victims of abuse and neglect in the U.S.: xv $33,333,619,510
- Annual estimated direct AND indirect cost of child abuse and neglect in the U.S.: xvi $80,260,411,087
What kind of legal assistance is provided for these children?
- 39% of states do not mandate legal representation for children in abuse and neglect proceedings.xvii
What happens to former foster children?
- Approximately 402,378 children were in the foster care system as of September 30, 2013. xviii
- 23,090 of those children aged out of foster care. xix
- Percentage of the general population age 25 and older who have a bachelor’s degree: xx 31%
- Percentage of former foster children age 25 and older who have a bachelor’s degree: xxi 3%
- Percentage of the general population in jail or prison: xxii <1%
- Percentage of former foster children* incarcerated since age 17: xxiii Males: 64%, Females: 32.5%
- Percentage of the general population who experience homelessness over the course of a year: xxiv <1%
- Percentage of former foster children* who experience homelessness after aging out of the system. xxv 24%
- Percentage of former foster children* who are unemployed one year after aging out: xxvi 61%
- Percentage of former foster children* who are unemployed five years after aging out: xxvii 53.5%
- Percent of foster youth who complete high school by age 18: xxviii 50%
- Percent of foster youth who graduated high school who attend college: xxix 20%