Foster youth who received some help in making the transition out of the child welfare system tended to do far better than those who were thrust out of the system at age 19 without any support.
Without such assistance, only 42 percent of former foster youths on average will have finished high school by age 21, researchers found. By age 26, only 48 percent on average will have jobs.
However, the studies also found that young men and women who did receive transitional support were twice as likely to pursue educational opportunities after high school.
Stateline, a news organization that focuses on state government, reports that in the wake of those and related findings, 22 states including Nebraska and Iowa have approved legislation to provide counseling and housing support for youth who age out of the foster care system. In Nebraska, the legislation’s sponsor was then-Sen. Amanda McGill of Lincoln.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services launched the program, called Bridge to Independence, last fall. It provides support and services for young people who age out of foster care or who are discharged to live on their own before age 19. Support includes “independence coordinators” who can offer advice, assistance in accessing resources and help in identifying the next steps needed to meet participants’ goals.
Another effort has been the Youth Mart at the Omaha Home for Boys campus at 4343 N. 52nd Street, where an annual drive is held in which people can donate furniture and household items for youth making the transition to independent living. The donation event this year will be Saturday, May 2, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Research by the University of Chicago indicates that the benefits to society exceed the costs of providing counseling and housing assistance.
No wonder the list of states offering such support continues to grow.