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Local News

Report: Older Foster Youths Lean Toward Higher Ed

Credit: iStock

Farah Siddiqi

Children who stay in foster care beyond age 18 are likely to pursue higher education, according to the Fostering in Youth Transitions 2023 report by the Annie E Casey Foundation.

Georgia foster-care agencies agree that with a whole-child approach, the children go on to pursue higher education and careers – and become successful adults.

Sandy Corbin – chief program officer at the Multi-Agency Alliance for Children – said youths who stay through adulthood get more benefits and resources than those who leave.

“Yes, we have tons of young people in college who have graduated from college,” said Corbin. “Again, the empowerment initiative is where you see the young people in care, but there’s also adult supporters who are alumni of care. We have some amazing success stories of some people who did not have an easy way to go, but with the right support and the right connections have made great strides in the world.”

About 38% of Georgia’s foster youths ages 16 and older exited foster care in 2021 without permanent, legal connections to family or caregivers.

The foundation’s report found them exposed to risks including homelessness and economic instability.

Some of the major increases to success in youth fostering are seen through changes in data over how children enter foster care.

Children used to enter foster care for behavioral reasons, but those numbers have fallen and now neglect has taken the top spot.

Federal eligibility has expanded dramatically but federal funding has not kept pace. Todd Lloyd, senior policy associate with the Casey Foundation, explained.

“There are less group homes being used for teenagers in foster care and an increase in family-based settings,” said Lloyd. “And particular relatives or kinship foster settings have been on the increase in recent years.”

Twenty-four percent of Georgia’s foster care population was age 14 and older in 2021, down from 27% in 2006.

Disclosure: Annie E Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children’s Issues, Education, Juvenile Justice, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

This story was written by Farah Siddiqi, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.