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The Foster-Care-to-Prison Pipeline

I’m about to throw some statistics at you that will make you feel really unsettled about the outcomes for foster kids in America. My husband is in school to become a counselor, and he shared these statistics with me after a recent research project he completed.

Be prepared to have your heart broken.

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Things I’m NOT trying to say with these statistics:

1) Being placed in foster care is the sole reason foster kids have a great likelihood to end up incarcerated.

2) Foster kids would be better off staying in their biological homes.

3) Foster kids are troublesome, delinquents who are bound to end up in prison, regardless of their healing process.

4) We should feel so sorry for foster kids that we don’t hold them accountable for their actions.

Things I AM trying to say with these statistics:

1) Kids who enter foster care start life with a disadvantage.

2) Regardless of whose “fault” it is, foster kids almost always fall through the cracks in one area of life or another

3) We, as a society, aren’t intervening early enough.

4) This isn’t just “their” problem. It’s ours, too.

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That being said, HERE WE GO.

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Did you know?

(Incarceration)

– By age 17, over half of youth in foster care have experienced an arrest, conviction, or overnight stay in a correctional facility.

– 90% of youth with 5+ foster placements will enter the justice system at some point in their life.

– Female foster youth are ten times more likely than their non-foster peers to commit a crime, while males are four percent more likely.

Residential Facilities

– Youth placed in group homes are 2.5 times more likely to get involved with the justice system than their peers.

– Of the 435,000 foster kids in America, 55,000 live in residential treatment facilities, group homes, psychiatric institutions, or emergency shelters.

– 36% of foster kids in residential/psychiatric care have a DSM diagnosis, but 28% have no clinical indicators of a diagnosis whatsoever. The remaining 36% of them have indicators of a diagnosis, but have not yet been diagnosed with anything.

– 45% of foster kids are placed in facilities for behavior problems.

Substance Abuse

– Former foster youth experience more than 7x the rate of drug dependence and 2x the rate of alcohol dependence as non-foster youth.

– Parental substance abuse was the reason for removing children from families in 32.2 percent of cases in 2015, which was up from 28.5 percent in 2012.

– 34% of foster care children struggle with illicit drug use, compared with 22% of non-foster children.

– Foster care youth tend to engage in substance use a year and a half earlier than their non-foster peers.

Homelessness

– Nationally, 50% of the homeless population spent time in foster care.

– The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimates that 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year as a result of assault, illness, or suicide.

– After reaching the age of 18, 20% of foster kids will become instantly homeless.

– A history of foster care correlates with becoming homeless at an earlier age and remaining homeless for a longer period of time.

Education and Employment

– There’s less than a 3% chance for children who have aged out of foster care to earn a college degree at any point in their lifetime.

– 1 in 4 kids who age out of the system will not graduate from high school or be able to pass their GED.

Generational Problems

– The percentage of children who age out of foster care and still suffer from the direct effects of unhealed PTSD is 25%.

– Children whose parents abuse alcohol and drugs are more likely to have behavioral problems, which increases the risk of trying alcohol or drugs.

– Children of parents who abuse substances are exposed to more opportunities to try these substances.

– Children of parents who abuse drugs may inherit a genetic predisposition (or greater likelihood) for addiction or for having an “addictive personality,” which has been clinically proven in brain studies to exist.

Sex Trafficking

– 60% of all child sex trafficking victims have histories in the child welfare system.

– Foster children have a history of being used by biological parents as a “paycheck,” meaning they may be more attracted to the type of increased attention and lavish advances human traffickers are well versed in conducting.

– Human traffickers will prey on individuals who are most vulnerable, which is why foster children have a greater risk of becoming victims than those who aren’t in the system.

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These are not THEIR statistics!!! They are OUR statistics regarding OUR children. Our entire society is affected by a cycle that hasn’t been broken for a very long time.

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Sources used (sans formatting):

– https://www.safy.org/what-you-need-to-know-about-foster-care-and-human-trafficking/

– https://www.nfyi.org/issues/sex-trafficking/

– https://www.teenvogue.com/story/the-foster-care-to-prison-pipeline-what-it-is-and-how-it-works

– https://www.drugrehab.com/featured/behind-the-nations-foster-care-crisis/?fbclid=IwAR3bVoUmRSY4k6wRttRkS8FnAAPHX0wW5gqN0SMnboPQCr0ut7vfcPOwkTk

– http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/congregate-care-and-group-home-state-legislative-enactments/fbclid/iwar2qziyhnogifttoijfg_bmccj5xzvfcsbohqz_22kreg0lsdsjhhwngido.aspx

– https://www.fosterfocusmag.com/articles/foster-care-and-homelessness?fbclid=IwAR1eunS0hFrKmx8BQhbtUDZ_X_lsUjW_ghoBhzQa3jT_e7jXLvUsJnvPiak

– https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-addiction-hereditary

– https://jlc.org/news/what-foster-care-prison-pipeline

– https://www.fosterclub.com//blog/statistics-and-research/current-state-foster-care?fbclid=IwAR0wXYQzSsBi_toNQ-Kn4nAMklhT7Ry07M_TWFLh0GitYXCZQuIvbktlux0

– https://www.nfyi.org/51-useful-aging-out-of-foster-care-statistics-social-race-media/?fbclid=IwAR12tI072oyTxpHkCZawuvgQBzxfcxEDEy5LsNm0r0SblirsgL1_X3VFhfY

The Foster-Care-to-Prison Pipeline


W. R. Cummings


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APA Reference
Cummings, W. (2019). The Foster-Care-to-Prison Pipeline. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 18, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/foster-care/2019/04/the-foster-care-to-prison-pipeline/

 

Last updated: 28 Apr 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.