A recent report from Chapin Hall, the policy research arm at the University of Chicago, gives stark details about the employment outcomes of former foster youth in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.
"Foster youth who age out of care are less likely to be employed and earn lower wages than other youth, even when compared to demographically similar low-income youth. Unemployment and underemployment are common," the report states. http://www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/Midwest_Study_ES_Age_23_24.pdf
Imagine the employment scenario for youth in foster care who never even graduate from high school. What kind of jobs will they be finding?
When we released our Operation Restart report in January documenting that 30,000 Pennsylvania teenagers fail to graduate with their class each year, we mentioned "special populations" as being especially susceptible to falling prey to dropping out. Those special populations include pregnant and parenting teens, English-as-a-second-language (ESL) learners, and youth in foster care.
Foster kids can experience multiple out-of-home placements while they are in the foster care system and because of that jumping around, they are likely to have changed schools, too. When you talk to foster youth who were in care for many years, it is not uncommon to hear them say they changed high school three or four times. Many teens in foster care fall behind in their schoolwork because of the constant disruption in their academics and never catch up.
If they never catch up they are likely to give up and drop out.
Operation Restart (www.operationrestart.org) aims to reconnect high school dropouts to their education and a skilled workforce to turn this population into productive, engaged, tax-paying citizens.
So join us in supporting Operation Restart and in doing so, help a former foster care youth reconnect to the rest of his life.
William J. Bartle, Youth Policy Director, PA Partnerships for Children