Pipeline: Foster Care to Homelessness

The foster care system is broken. Our youth are being set up for failure. Children, who have no control over where they call home, endure abuse, neglect, and irreversible trauma. Once they outgrow the system, who is responsible for them? 

The instability that comes along with being in foster care proves to be very influential in regard to behavioral issues and mental health. Studies show that between 30 to 40 percent of children have been arrested after they left the system. By the time foster children turn 18, more than 25 percent of children in the foster care system will know what it is like to be handcuffed and put behind bars. What does this lead to? Once arrested, it becomes a pattern of going in and out of jail, continuing the instability that they have experienced throughout their lives. 

What then comes along with jail time? It becomes more difficult for these young individuals to apply for jobs and for housing. Homelessness becomes their only option.  In the Bay Area, about 75 percent of homeless youth were, at some point in their life, in Foster Care and/or jail. These are not only statistics; these are real lives and real children whom the system has failed. Rather than reforming and creating more guidelines to improve the foster care system, states like Florida have actually created laws to stop parents from abusing their children. At the surface, this law seems like a step forward in helping abused children, but it created an even bigger problem. The law allowed the Department of Children and Families to remove thousands of children from their homes and place them in already crowded foster homes. Also, due to the overflow of foster children, many were placed in homes that had previous evidence of abuse. While the goal of this law was to protect children, the wellbeing of thousands of children is at risk.

It’s troubling that when abortion is discussed and debated, the alternative of adoption is always thrown in there. People protest and yell at women to put their unborn fetus up for adoption; however, what happens after the baby is born and ends up in foster care? Where are the protestors advocating for the lives they once cared about? The “fetus” they were saving is now in an abusive home with no one advocating for their wellbeing. With Roe v. Wade overturned and many states putting limits or simply banning abortion, who knows how many more children may end up in the failing foster care system. Who knows how many more children may end up abused, neglected, incarcerated, or homeless?


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