Foster care in America is failing its youth

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Foster care in America is failing its youth

It is a sobering and depressing fact that countless children around the world in 2017 still remain unprotected under Human Rights Laws. This indefensible fact has come under the spotlight at a recent international foster care conference. Global fostering experts meeting in Greece were in agreement that children living vulnerable and unprotected lives deserve a decent foster care system.

If you think of America, there is a tendency to think in cliches: the statue of liberty is a good as any with its ever popular “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” (originally from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus). So it is little surprise the US has welcomed millions of migrants over the decades. Apart from the uplifting aforementioned quote, there are some more down to earth reasons to explain the gravitational pull of these diverse and increasingly schizoid nation. Its vast wealth: setting aside current gloom and doom, America is the world’s richest country. It has  a per capita GDP level around $45,000, whilst, in comparison, the richest European nations can manage only a $40,000 or so per capita GDP.

America can boast a staggering $63.5 trillion in total private wealth – easily the largest amount of any country. Little wonder those two other favourite cliches are never far below the surface of our globally collective consciousness: the land of opportunity and the ‘American Dream’. There is, however, something nightmarish stalking the ‘Dreamscape’ and it is an uncomfortable fact: the US has the largest wealth inequality gap of 55 countries a recent study concluded. This cannot be healthy and must surely presage the weakening of that society’s standards. This means both its government and people are being slowly affected by anomie as the natural societal bonds begin to

erode. The cry, inevitably, will go up – where is the evidence for this? There will be limitless examples that can be proffered, but there is one that is perhaps more compelling than most as it relates to children. It is the simple fact that almost half of all foster care youth will end up in jail within two years of becoming too old to remain in the foster care system.

This bald fact, jars the senses. It is an inconvenient truth that sits uncomfortably with our preconceptions of such a powerful and wealthy nation. It is a fact that America’s foster care system is one of its most problematic institutions. It has been underfunded for many years. The system has not been much more successful at improving the outcomes of the children it removed from dysfunctional and neglectful homes. The young people it is there to support have no real leverage so policy decisions tend to be reactive – most often the result of scandals hitting the press. As happens in the UK, when there is a tragedy, the US care services are forced into action: in New York City after a mother killed her daughter in 1995, thousands of children were forcefully taken from their homes and placed into foster care.

A new model for foster care

Young people growing up in their birth homes can rely upon their parents to provide support. That can be emotional or financial. For them, the transition to adulthood is smoothed. For young people in the American foster care system, turning eighteen means a particularly abrupt ending to their youth: suddenly they are very much on their own. In the UK this problem has been recognised and so foster care here, with the advent of “Staying Put’, can be extended for young people over the age of eighteen. In America, there are reasons to be more optimistic. The work of ‘First Place’ which was founded in 1998 by Amy Lemley and Deanne Pearn – both graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley-Goldman School of Public Policy – is making positive inroads into this foster care issue. They were originally struck by the cycle of homelessness and poverty affecting large numbers of young people leaving foster care. Financed with only a meagre grant, they set up ‘First Place’ along with four former foster children. Support was provided to youngsters leaving foster care to cover the areas of housing, employment, finance management and further education. This organisation was the very first in Northern California, which dedicated itself to combating the effects of unaffordable housing and employment. Since then ‘First Place’ has developed to become a nationally recognised foster care model. They have some impressive statistics: in 2016 they supported 1,405 young people to “build foundations for future success”; upon leaving the ‘First Place’ programme, 75% of young people had got a stable place to live; 96% of youngsters had been awarded or were pursuing a high school diploma and finally an impressive 81% of care leavers were “employed and progressing toward financial self sufficiency”.

Foster care ‘Rainbow Rewards’ – well worth looking into

Rainbow Fostering Agency prides itself on providing high quality support and guidance to people giving seriously thinking about foster care. We support our approved foster carers twenty four hours a day – 365 days a year. And currently we will pay you a £500 bonus if you provide us with a referral. The bonus will be given once that person has been approved and we have given them their first foster care placement. Remember also that it is possible for any approved foster carer wanting to transfer over to Rainbow Fostering Services to do so easily. They may also be eligible to receive a generous bonus. Please Call our fostering recruitment team on 020 8427 3355 to learn more about the benefits of joining our special Rainbow community. Remember, If you live locally, or perhaps not so locally, we would always be delighted for you to visit our offices for a friendly chat and a coffee. Learn about fostering in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere – with absolutely no commitment expected: it could well be the start of a whole new foster care

Foster care failing youth in America

Foster care struggling to deliver in the US

future for you – as well as that of a child.

And the very good news at the end of this weeks foster care rainbow…our Youth Participation Officer has been sent the latest musical track from one of the children on our music course. It’s amazing – once completed we will be uploading it to inspire all our other children and young people in our foster care

Rainbow foster care news, latest…

National Fostering Stocktake deadline passes

June 23rd, 2017

The deadline for submissions to the National Fostering Stocktake was passed on the 16th June. (cont)

For more information on foster care and the National Fostering Stocktake visit

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