No Youth Should Emancipate From Foster Care Without a Permanent Family

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No Youth Should Emancipate From Foster Care Without a Permanent Family

Today there are over 3,000 children in foster care in the greater Sacramento region. Over two thirds of these children are 6 years or older and 754 children have been in foster care for over 60 months. If permanent families are not found for these youth, they have little option other than to stay in the foster care system until they age out at 18-20 years old. And then, they are the most at-risk group of youth.

Children’s futures can be bleak when they age out of foster care without a permanent connection. Many will enter the adult world without basic living skills. Research shows that within two to four years of aging out, over half of these youth will be homeless, victimized, incarcerated, or dead. Well over half will be unemployed and almost 50% will not have finished high school. It was reported a few years ago by CBS News that “Former foster children have surpassed veterans as the number one group in California’s homeless shelters.”

The benefits of permanency are long standing. By finding a forever family for our children in foster care we have a chance to change the outcomes for these children. No matter how old the child is or how long that child has been in foster care, with special services, that child can successfully transition to a forever family. Ramona* was three years old when she first entered foster care. By the time she was thirteen years old, she had been in seven placements. Ramona had frequent tantrums and reactive behaviors but her social workers noticed she was kind to animals. Sierra Forever Families began working with Ramona, helping her understand her grief and loss of her bio family and began looking for a placement with a family who had animals. One family expressed interest in helping Ramona. An invitation to visit the farm and watch the birth of a colt was extended. After a few months, daily visits transitioned to weekend visits. After two months of weekend visits to the family farm Ramona declared, “Why don’t I come live with you?” In June 2014, 16 year old Ramona’s adoption was finalized.

Ramona avoided aging out of foster care and facing the grim outcomes that plague more than half of all children who leave the foster care system without the support of a permanent family. Shouldn’t all children in foster care have the chance to find that permanent connection and their own forever family? Visit www.sierraff.org or call us at 916-368-5114 for more information about how you can help.

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