What really happens 85% of the time when children leave foster care?
As human trafficking rings and leaders often target those that are most vulnerable, youth and teens previously or presently in foster care are often sourced. In fact, the National Foster Youth Institute recently estimated that 60 percent of child sex trafficking victims have been within foster care (or another part of the larger child welfare system).
A number of high-risk attributes for human trafficking are aligned with the experiences of many children and teens in foster care, including:
Children and teens with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and/or who have experienced trauma, especially those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Those who have a history of running away
Those who have a diagnosis or undiagnosed depression and behavioral conditions
Those who are experiencing homelessness, including those who are LGBTQ+ and those who have aged out of the foster care system
Those who are unemployed or lack a sense of security through income and/or relationships.
National Foster Youth Homelessness Statistics
1. In the first four years after aging out of foster care, approximately 20% of former foster youth will experience homelessness.
2. Nationally, approximately 29% of youth without housing between the ages of 13 and 25 have spent time in foster care.
3. An estimated 50% of foster youth in the United States who reunified with prior caregivers (often family) and ultimately became homeless, said they were subjected to repeated abuse and/or neglect post-reunification.
4. 61% of former foster youth experiencing homelessness are likely to be incarcerated compared to 46% of homeless youth who had never been in the child welfare system.
5. Comparatively, 48% of former foster youth who are homeless are likely to be in school and/or employed vs 55% of homeless youth not placed in foster care.
6. 28% of homeless foster youth identify as LGBTQ+ compared to 22% of non-foster youth.
7. Approximately, 47% of all current foster youth without housing experienced homelessness with their biological family compared to 9% of non-foster youth.
A variety of studies reported that 30 to 40 percent of foster children have been arrested since they exited foster care. Over one-fourth have spent at least one night in jail and over 15 percent had been convicted of a crime.
Many foster youths are at a higher risk of indulging in drug use due to the adverse experiences that they face. This is why it is imperative that not only case workers, but guardians, school officials, and treatment centers understand and assist youth in drug use prevention and treatment. Studies have shown that youth in foster care are at a higher risk of indulging in marijuana, alcohol, and other drug use than their peers who are not in foster care.