Better Days
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Better Days. Priority of Permanency. A journey with former foster youth, Tawny Spinelli. Before Foster Care…. Abuse/Neglect Housing Instability Poverty Rejection. Attachment Issues Behavioral Problems Distrust of Caregivers Poor Self-Esteem Acting Out Lower School Performance

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Better Days

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Better days

Better Days


Priority of permanency

Priority of Permanency

A journey with former foster youth, Tawny Spinelli


Before foster care

Before Foster Care…


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  • Abuse/Neglect

  • Housing Instability

  • Poverty

  • Rejection

  • Attachment Issues

  • Behavioral Problems

  • Distrust of Caregivers

  • Poor Self-Esteem

  • Acting Out

  • Lower School Performance

  • Isolation


Coming into foster care

Coming Into Foster Care…


Number of kids in care

Number of Kids in Care

  • In 2010, there were 28,954 children in foster care in the state of Texas (Kids Count Data).

  • In 2010, there were 408,425 children in foster care in the United States (Kids Count Data).


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Trash Bag in My Hands

24:20-25:30


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  • For children in care longer than 24 months, 68% had more than two placements (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010).


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  • The more placements that a foster youth has, the less likely they are to graduate high school (Fernandes-Alcantara, 2012).

  • In fact, only 50% of all foster youth complete secondary education (high school) (Wolanin, 2005).


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The more placements foster youth have, the less connected they feel with their parental figures and therefore, are more likely to become pregnant (Boonstra, 2011).


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  • Foster youth pregnancy and parenting double the rate of high school dropouts and also increase the rate of unemployment (Leathers & Testa, 2002).


Transitioning youth

Transitioning Youth


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  • Transitioning youth, ages 15-17, represent the largest age group of all foster youth, and 1 out of every 4 foster youth fits into this age range (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011).


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  • In 2010, 3,185 youth aged out of the foster care system in Texas. (Kids Count Data)

  • In 2010, over 27,500 youth aged out of the foster care system in the United States (McCoy-Roth, DeVooght, & Fletcher, 2010; Department of Health and Human Services, 2010)

  • What happens when you age out?


Leaving foster care

Leaving Foster Care…


After exiting care by age 23

After exiting care, by age 23:

  • 66% of youth had lived in at least 3 different places

  • 30% had lived in 5 or more places

  • 37% had been homeless

    • 50% of those that had been homeless were homeless more than once

(Midwest Study, 2010)


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  • Only 16%-26% of former foster youth are consistently connected to the labor market (Hook & Courtney, 2010), and of those who are connected, 84% make less than $9/hour (Courtney et al., 2007).


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Vanderbilt Graduate 2011


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  • However, less than 5% of former foster youth complete college degree programs (Wolanin, 2005)


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#1. You can’t legislate permanency. However, policies can be created and implemented to allow opportunities for permanency. (CASA, Mentoring, Placement Stability, Legal Check-ins)

#2. Kids don’t stop needing permanency when they turn 18 or 21. It’s, as implicated by the word, a permanent need.

#3 Early permanency is what helps to break the cycle.


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