To fully understand why the Independent Living programs were created, and ensure that they are implemented to best fulfill their purpose, it is necessary to think about how children are normally raised by their own families. Parents are responsible for ensuring their children are trained in the family’s values and receive discipline to inculcate those values. Parents also help with their children’s formal education. We don’t often think about the day-to-day, common-sense information that parents also impart to their children. And until the “Road to Independence Act” was passed in Florida, children’s advocates did not focus much, if at all, on ensuring that foster children somehow learned this day-to-day information. Clearly, ensuring that foster children receive an appropriate formal education and health care services, and that they live in an appropriate foster home, can itself be a full-time endeavor.
The statistics, however, indicate just how important it is that foster children also learn all those things that parents typically impart to their children on an informal, daily basis. These things include: budgeting and money management, including how to write a check, and how using credit cards can increase the cost of purchases; menu planning, shopping and cooking; completing forms and applications; knowledge about paying taxes and timely filing tax returns; dressing appropriately for job interviews; and on and on. Those children fortunate enough to live in a family foster home, and to be stable in that foster home, can learn these things. But foster children who are moved frequently, or who live in group homes where these tasks are not modeled, simply do not learn these things. And when these foster children graduate from the system at age 18, they usually lose the adult supports they had; they are frequently unable to successfully perform the activities of adult daily living. Past studies have shown that approximately 50% of adults who aged out of the foster care system experienced homelessness and/or joblessness, were welfare recipients, or engaged in criminal activities for which they were imprisoned. This painted a grim portrait of life after foster care.
‘Not For Profit’: Aging Out Of Foster Care In America by Wvumnews on Mixcloud