Can you remember your eighteenth birthday? Do you recall what it was like to be that age? Not really an adult, but no longer a child. Now imagine for a moment turning 18 and having to leave your home and live on your own – with no emotional support, no plan and no financial means. Imagine how frightening that would be. What would you do? Where would you go? How would you live? Sadly, this is exactly what happens to countless kids in the foster care system.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 22,000 adolescents “age out” of the foster care system each year when they turn eighteen – that means they are no longer allowed to be in foster care. What happens to these kids? Some of them are lucky enough to be able to move in with family members, and some move into institutional care facilities. But for many of these kids, their 18th birthday is the day they begin life on their own as adults.
These youths lose a lot during this transition, not just the security of their foster homes and families, but also healthcare access, financial assistance and often their social workers. Is it any wonder that only half of these kids will earn a high school diploma or GED? Is it surprising that only 2-3% will go on to earn a 4-year degree? Think about that number – that’s just 500 kids out of 22,000 – a staggering statistic.
The federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 gave states the option of raising the emancipation age from 18 to 21, but only a few states have changed the law. So this is why we do what we do here at Blavin Scholars. We help these young people create a life for themselves. We help them get an education. And, most importantly, we support and help them transition to a new life. We love these kids and we love what we do.