Iowa’s foster children who lose their support systems at age 18 often struggle with long-term success as adults, according to a new report. The report from The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a first-of-its-kind data brief that shows why older youths and teens benefit from extended care. Nationwide, 25% of children in the foster care population are age 14 and older, while in Iowa it’s 32%.
Carol Behrer with the Youth Policy Institute of Iowa says in 2015 Iowa was sixth in the nation for children in the state’s foster care system.
African-Americans represent just 4% of Iowa’s population, but youths from those families represent 17% of the foster care population.
That makes those children very vulnerable, according to Leslie Gross, director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative with the Casey Foundation.
The primary goal of foster care is reunification of the child with the family, and 70% of children in foster care are reunited with their birth families or adopted by relatives.
But Behrer says Iowa’s efforts to successfully launch foster children into adulthood would be eased by offering them support long-term.
Foster youths in Iowa are less likely than their peers nationwide to have stable housing or obtain their high school diploma or GED by age 21.