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


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

  • Isolation


Coming Into Foster 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).


Trash Bag in My Hands

24:20-25:30


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


  • 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).


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).


  • 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, 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).


  • 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…


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)


  • 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).


Vanderbilt Graduate 2011


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


#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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