Friends of the Children's Work Along the Continuum: Foster Care Support

DID YOU KNOW that historically, more than 40% of youth in the Friends of the Children program have experienced out-of-home placements, either through the formal foster care system or through informal placement with a relative caregiver?

Foster Care Fast Facts:

In 2019, more than 672,000 children in the United States experienced foster care. If a child must be removed from home due to child abuse or neglect, the law requires that the child be placed in the least restrictive, most family-like environment available. If a child must be removed from the home, placement with family is considered the least restrictive placement option. Relatives care for 32 percent of children in foster care— or about 139,000 children—according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System. If a relative is not available, federal law requires the child to be placed in foster care and specifies that foster care is intended to be temporary. Of the more than 423,000 children in foster care at any given time, approximately 46 percent, or about 195,000 children, are placed in a foster family home with a non-relative. African American and American Indian/ Alaskan Native children are both overrepresented among children in foster care. American Indian/Alaskan Native children are less than 1 percent of the child population, but they make up 2 percent of children in foster care. African American children are 14 percent of the child population, but they make up 21 percent of children in foster care.

Friends as a Foster Care Intervention

In our last email, we talked about our priority of keeping families together to avoid the trauma of removal and placement into foster care.

When placement in foster care is unavoidable, Friends are still there as a resource to youth and their families. Since 2014, Friends of the Children has partnered directly with the foster care system to enroll youth in care into our program. Our model is proven to work with children and young adults that have experienced chronic stress and trauma. Young adults who experience involvement with the foster care system and who graduate from the program achieve our three long-term programmatic outcomes at the same rate as all of our program participants – remarkable results considering the national statistics for youth transitioning out of foster care:

- 83% of with Friends graduate high school, while 55% without a Friend graduate high school;
- 93% of youth with Friends avoid the juvenile justice system, compared to 74% without Friends avoiding the juvenile justice system; and
- 98% of youth with Friends avoid early parenting, while only 74% without a Friend wait to parent until after their teen years.

In addition, while young adults who’ve experienced foster care are just as likely as their peers to have college aspirations, only 32 to 45 percent pursue higher education after high school. At Friends of the Children, we celebrate the fact that 92% of our program graduates go on to enroll in post-secondary, serve our country, or become employed in a living wage job.

Check out this video featuring Patrick, a program graduate in Oregon who also experienced foster care.

You might also like this video of George in Austin.