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National Adoption Month – Time to Support Foster Youth

November is National Adoption month.  This is a time to encourage families to adopt while alerting our community about the vulnerable children who do not get adopted and age out of foster care.

Foster care is intended to be a temporary service provided by states for children who cannot live with their families. According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, there are more than 400,000 children living in foster homes in the United States with over 31,000 children in foster care in Texas. The goal of every foster care placement is to reunify the child with their parents or family. Children whose mothers’ and fathers’ parental rights are legally terminated remain in the foster care system and wait for adoption. In 2015, more than 62,000 children were waiting to be adopted. According to the Adoption Law Center, these children will wait for more than three years for an adoptive family.  For too many, this day will never come.

Every child in foster care has been exposed to some form of trauma. The type of trauma can vary widely from neglect to domestic violence to physical and sexual abuse. However, it is important to note that even the very act of being placed in foster care is traumatic for a child as they are removed from their family and familiar surroundings.

The transition to adulthood can be challenging for any adolescent.  For the typical teen, this transition occurs over many years with substantial support from a loving family and friends. Yet, each year, more than 20,000 young people — whom states failed to reunite with their families or place in permanent homes — age out of foster care. “Aging out” of foster care means that when a youth reaches the age of 18 they lose the support they received while in foster care including financial, educational, social, and otherwise.

Most of the youth who transition out of the foster care system have minimal preparation for a life on their own and little or no connection to a trusted adult, family or community. Research has shown that those who leave care without being linked to forever families face challenges with sex trafficking, homelessness, lack of financial resources, difficulty accessing educational opportunities, unemployment, sex trafficking and incarceration. These issues are reflected in startling statistics about the over 1,300 youth who aged out of foster care in Texas last year and are most vulnerable to becoming victims of sex trafficking, homelessness or incarceration.

Services are needed to protect these adolescents from being another statistic.  The Ebby House at Juliette Fowler Communities changes the trajectory for young women aging out of foster care

through prevention, intervention and restoration services.  These services are for young women aging out of foster care through transitional living program, which includes shelter, food, case management, education advancement, and life-skills training, with the ultimate goal of becoming a productive citizen. The Ebby House’s strengths-based program mentors up to 12 young women, ages 18-24, for up to 24 months. As an added benefit, the young women live in our intergenerational community and therefore benefit from the wisdom and encouragement of our elders.

During this National Adoption month, consider if you are able to adopt a child.  If not, commit to supporting transforming programs like The Ebby House to change the tomorrow for foster care children who did not have a choice in their yesterday.

 

Nicole Gann

CEO Juliette Fowler Communities/The Ebby House (shelter for girls aging out of foster care)

ngann@fowlercommunities.org

1234 Abrams Road, Dallas, Texas  75214        office:  214-827-0813

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