Foster Care Youth in Louisian
- 1 Abstract
- 2 Increase High School Completion Rates for Foster Care Youth
- 3 Literature Review
- 3.1 Lower High School Completions Rate for Foster Care Youth
- 3.2 Number of School Placements Effect High School Completion for Foster Care Youth
- 3.3 High School Drop Out Rates affect Society as a Unit
- 3.4 Cost to Government Versus Youth to Extend Foster Care Support to 21
- 3.5 Youth Transition and Federal Funding Available to States for Support
- 3.6 Guidance to Increase Education Guidance and Support to Foster Care Youth
- 4 Conclusion
- 5 Methods
- 6 References
This study examined high school completion rates of foster care youth in Louisiana without extending foster care to age 21 in comparison to studies of the high school completion rates with rates of foster care youth in Louisiana to the high school completion in states that extend care to age 21. The foster care youth high school completion rates vary based on extended care offered and perception of cost to taxpayers. By continuing foster care support to youth to age 21, it will increase high school completion rates which will reduce costs to taxpayers, high school dropout rate, and create better well-being for foster care youth.
Increase High School Completion Rates for Foster Care Youth
Foster care high school completion rates for foster care youth varies in each state with several states extending foster care support to 21 from the traditional age of 18 and several states which now continue support to graduation or age 21 or whichever comes first. Each State can extend care and receive reimbursement form the federal government. However, there are still States that do not extend foster care support. Without this extension, these youth are without shelter, food, clothing, medical care, and guidance to complete high school to increase their well-being later in life. The State of Illinois has set the bar as an example of why extending foster care to age 21 is successful and needed for the foster care program. In recent years, policymakers and foster care advocates have worked vigorously to change the high school dropout rates of foster care youth. In the United States, thousands of children are placed in the foster care program every year.
Lower High School Completions Rate for Foster Care Youth
Elizabeth Ahmann’s study 2017: Study focused on the need to increase support to foster care youth aging out. Ahmann used case studies to retrieve information about the graduation rate. Her research showed that foster care kids are not able to meet their basic needs financially which results in lower rates of completing high school.
Number of School Placements Effect High School Completion for Foster Care Youth
Burt S. Barnow, Amy Buck, Kirk O’Brien, Peter Pecora, Mei Ling Ellis, and Eric Steiner study 2013: Kids placed in foster care change schools often and repeat grades which makes it harder to obtain a high school diploma.
High School Drop Out Rates affect Society as a Unit
Rebecca Powell Stanard Study 2003: Dropping out of school takes place over a period of time, and it affects the child as well as society.
Transition-Age Youth in Foster-Care. In Illinois 2015: This study showed the rate of high school completion in Illinois is higher with foster care support to age 21 than in the U.S. in states which does not extend foster care.
Cost to Government Versus Youth to Extend Foster Care Support to 21
Clark M. Peters, Amy Dworsky, Mark E. Courtney, Harold Pollack Study 2009:This study showed the cost of extending care to 21 for the federal government is less than the cost to support the youth after aging out at 18.
Youth Transition and Federal Funding Available to States for Support
Adrienne L. Fernandes-Alcantara Study 2017: Showed foster care youth transitioning to adulthood have less support than traditional families. It also showed federal government aid to states for additional to these youth and funds that are unused in specific state.
Guidance to Increase Education Guidance and Support to Foster Care Youth
U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2016: Research to assist States educational guidance to increase care to foster care education for youth in foster care.
The Task Force on Extending the Age of Foster Care to 21 Findings 2019: Findings that the cost to government is higher to allow children to age out at 18 than to provide support until 21. Before, during, and after foster care youth are faced with difficulties having their basic needs met. Basic needs are a shelter, food, hygiene, medical, dental, and education. Financially, youth are handicapped by social restraints which affect their ability to receive even a high school education successfully. Teens traditionally have continued family support during high school and after the age of 18. The importance of having continued support to achieve high school completion is a necessity for all youth which includes foster care youth. Elizabeth Ahmann (2017) reports, “It is widely understood that a stable family life – or alternatively, the presence of an adult who has taken an interest in, reached out to, and created a bond of affection with a young person – is a key factor in ensuring adjustment, school success, and preparation for adulthood “ (p. 2). Without continued support, it will not be an easy feat to complete a high school program while working towards obtaining a meal and avoiding homelessness. Without support, they will find themselves turning to crime and drugs to sustain a sense of well-being. Society is affected as a whole; its ode not just affect foster care youth. Elizabeth Stanard’s study (2003) supports this, “[d]ropping out of school should be viewed as a process rather than an event, and interventions must be developed to address the problem on multiple levels” and “The failure of students to complete a high school education is a problem that has serious consequences not only for the individual but also for society” (p.4).
Society has yet to view the educational needs of foster care support as a necessity to increase the quality of life for foster care youth which will improve the quality of society. To increase high school completion for foster care youth studies the federal government put in place the Title IV-E in 2008. The United States offered federal reimbursements to States. This program provides reimbursements to states that offer extended foster care. This option allows youth to remain in foster care after reaching age 18, provided that he has not yet reached age 19, 20, or 21, as the State may elect. Clark Peters, Amy Dworsky, Mark Courtney, and Harold Pollack (2009) illustrate, “[m]oreover, to qualify states for federal reimbursement, Title IV-E eligible foster youth age 18 and older must either be completing high school or an equivalent program; participating in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers, to employment; employed for at least 80 hours per month; or incapable of doing any of these activities due to a medical condition” (p. 1). However, even with Title IV-E reimbursements, each State has the option to choose if it will offer extended foster care or reject it. A limited number of States have chosen not to receive this support. The chart below shows that as of 2017 which States are involved in this program. Louisiana only enacted its bill in 2018.
The U.S. Department of Education estimates there are approximately 415,000 youth in foster care. Within the dynamic of the foster care system, a high percentage of these children do not complete high school with graduation or a GED. The U.S. Department of Education (2016) reports, “[s]tudents in foster care at age 17 are also less likely to graduate from high school, with only 65 percent graduating by the age of 21 compared to 86 percent among all youth ages 18 to 24” (p.3). With these statistics, States cannot afford to walk away from benefits received by extending foster care support to 21. The State of Louisiana has yet to support the foster care extension fully. In 2018 Senator Regina introduced to legislation (SCR10) which required Louisiana to study the effects of extending foster care in Louisiana to age 21. After, Senator Ryan Gatti introduced (ACT 649) which extends foster care support if the youth is in a high school equivalency or high school program until they graduate or if they do not complete it or he will be removed from the program at age 21. However, Louisiana has yet to find the budget to support the extension to age 21. The costs to taxpayers have created adversity to extend additional support to the foster care program. Taxpayers consider that the costs to extend foster care is more expensive than not to leave it as it is. Fear of funding money for placement, medical care, dental care, education, and food is an obstacle for foster care youth. This perception by Louisiana taxpayers is incorrect. The costs to taxpayers increase with teen pregnancy, incarceration, and extended government funds used for medical care, TNAF, and SNAP. Without Louisiana offering extended care the high school dropout rates increase which lowers the number of abled bodied foster care alumni to support themselves throughout their lifetime adequately. The Department of Child Welfare of Louisiana (2019) reports, “[m]ore than one in five will become homeless after age 18,
- Only 58 percent will graduate high school by age 19 (compared to 87 percent of all 19-year-olds).
- Young adults at age 19, no longer in care, have higher rates of recent alcohol abuse, substance dependence and substance abuse than those still in care. This suggests much of the difference is due to recent problems experienced by 19-year-olds after leaving care.
- Seventy-one percent of young women are pregnant by 21, facing higher rates of unemployment, criminal conviction, public assistance and involvement in the child welfare system.
- At the age of 24, only half are employed.
- Fewer than 3 percent will earn a college degree by age 25 (compared to 28 percent of all 25-year-olds).
- One in four will be involved in the justice system within two years of leaving the foster care system (p. ###).
Without taxpayer support of much needed dollars Louisiana lacks adequate funds to extend foster care support to 21. The State of Louisiana still needs an additional 3 million dollars to aid the extension plan. Senators Barrow and Gatti plan to author a bill in 2019 to ask for additional monies to fill the gap in Louisiana.
Senator Barrow’s (SCR10) instituted putting together the Task Force on Extending Foster Care to 21. The task was created to study the effects and costs of extending foster in Louisiana to age 21. The Task Force (2019) reported,
- Give young adults and caregivers more support during the transition to adulthood Prevent foster youth from becoming homeless immediately after exiting foster care
- Allow youth who left the system thinking they could manage on their own, a contingency plan when they encounter challenges
- Keep young adults connected to caregivers who know them
- Provide youth a better chance of completing high school or HiSET diploma/certificate
- Allow some youth a chance to begin a college or trade program
- Give youth a chance to gain employment experience and/or improve their employment situation to earn more income
- Increase time to find an adequate living arrangement for young adults in transition
- Provide more time to establish permanent connections
- Give caregivers more time to connect young adults with other systems such as the adult mental health system or developmental disabilities system
- Give youth with dependents a support system to become better caregivers themselves (p.10).
This report concluded that extending foster care to 21 is can only benefit Louisiana society. It will increase foster care education which will lower costs to taxpayers for funding of teen pregnancy, incarceration, long-term welfare support, and educate youth to offer better well-being and life through education.
Illinois began its foster care extension years before federal law passed Title IV-E. In 2002 Chapin Hall began to study the program in Illinois in comparison to the States of Iowa and Wisconsin which did not have extended care. Wiltz (2015) The study, dubbed the “Midwest Study,” found that foster youth who stayed in the system until age 21 had much better outcomes and were twice as likely to pursue post-secondary school education.” A survey, “Transition-Age Youth in Foster Care in Illinois,” completed in 2015 by the Nation Youth in Transition Database further supports Illinois’ success in extended foster care. Of the Illinois respondents to the survey, 62% finished high school/GED by age 19, and that number increased to 79% by age 21. Of the respondents within the US 56% completed high school/GED by age 19, and that number increased to 76% by age 21. (transition survey 2015).
The program in Illinois is successful increasing rates for foster care youth, and the study proves extending foster care support to 21 increases the completion of high school/GED for foster care youth. It is an example that Louisiana will increase high school completion rates by funding the extension of foster care to age 21.
The data collected in this study shows Louisiana can increase education for foster care youth by extending the program to age 21. Some major supportive statements are; “Dropping out of school should be viewed as a process rather than an event, and interventions must be developed to address the problem on multiple levels” and “The failure of students to complete a high school education is a problem that has serious consequences not only for the individual but also for society” (Stanard, 2003, p. 4 ). In Louisiana, children have been left at 18 with nowhere to go and no means of support for basic needs. This system is broken and costly to taxpayers. Extending care only lowers taxpayer dollars spent. The Task Force (2019) illustrates, “[t]his resulted in a taxpayer benefit of $1.35 for every dollar spent on the program. Considering benefits to both the taxpayer and participants, the Foster Care to 21 program provided $5.16 in benefits for every dollar spent” (p. 9). Without extended support to foster care youth have few options to avoid homelessness, drug abuse, or a life of crime. The costs of the system without change is higher to society and to the youth who fall prey to the baseless logic that receiving support to just the age of 18 is adequate support. This research provides acknowledgment the system must change to increase benefits to youth which will increase long-term prosperity to foster care and lower costs to taxpayers. This report proves increasing foster care support to 21 in Louisiana only benefits youth and taxpayers long-term creating a better society for the State of Louisiana.
The methods used in this research were case studies and measures of high school completion of foster care youth. Male and female genders were included for research purposes. The ages of youth were between 16 and 24. The ages of foster care youth were not specific and included all ages of foster care youth and former foster care alumni. The high school completion rates in Louisiana and Illinois were studied with these case studies to determine if extending foster care to age 21 will benefit foster care youth to increase high school completion.
- Ahmann, E. (2017). Supporting Youth Aging Out of Foster Care. Pediatric Nursing, 43(1), 43–48. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.nicholls.edu:2443/login.aspx?direct=true&db=tfh&AN=121353604&site=eds-live
- Child Welfare Information Gateway (2017, February). Child welfare.gov Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 (Publication). Retrieved https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/extensionfc.pdf
- Cypriano-McAferty, D., Rains, D., Carlson, P., & McBride, S. (2018). Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal, Star Superintendent Report to the Legislature Foster Care Outcomes (Rep.). Retrieved http://www.k12.wa.us/LegisGov/2018documents/2018-11-FosterCareOutcomes.pdf
- Department of Children and Family Services. (n.d.). Louisiana Should Extend Foster Care to Age 21 for All Youth, Task Force Recommends. Retrieved from http://www.dss.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=newsroom&tmp=detail&articleID=894#undefined
- Fernandes-Alcantara, A. L. (2018). Youth transitioning from foster care: background and federal programs. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.nicholls.edu:2443/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat00484a&AN=lani.1932284&site=eds-live
- Pecora PJ, Williams J, Kessler RC, et al. Assessing the educational achievements of adults who were formerly placed in family foster care. Child & Family Social Work. 2006;11(3):220-231. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2006.00429.x.
- Peters, C. M., Dworsky, A., Courtney, M. E., Pollack, H., & Chapin Hall Center for Children. (2009). Extending Foster Care to Age 21: Weighing the Costs to Government against the Benefits to Youth. Chapin Hall Issue Brief. Chapin Hall Center for Children. Chapin Hall Center for Children. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.nicholls.edu:2443/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=ED505827&site=eds-live
- Stanard, R. P. (2003). High School Graduation Rates in the United States: Implications for the Counseling Profession. Journal of Counseling & Development, 81(2), 217. https://doi-org.ezproxy.nicholls.edu:2443/10.1002/j.1556-6678.2003.tb00245.x
- Stott, T. (2012). Placement Instability and Risky Behaviors of Youth Aging Out of Foster Care. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 29(1), 61–83. https://doi-org.ezproxy.nicholls.edu:2443/10.1007/s10560-011-0247-8
- Transition-age youth in foster care facts in Illinois (Publication). (2017, August 29). Retrieved https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Transition-Age-Youth_Illinois.pdf
- T. (2019, February 01). 2018 SCR 10 FINAL REPORT TASK FORCE ON EXTENDING THE AGE OF FOSTER CARE TO 21 (Rep.). Retrieved http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/assets/docs/searchable/Reports/SCR_10_Aging_Out_Report_020119.pdf
- U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). Non-regulatory guidance: Ensuring educational stability for children in foster care. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/essa/edhhsfostercarenonre gulatorguide.pdf.
- Watt, T., Faulkner, M., Bustillos, S., & Madden, E. (2018). Foster Care Alumni and Higher Education: A Descriptive … Retrieved from https://txicfw.socialwork.utexas.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Watt2018_Article_FosterCareAlumniAndHigherEduca.pdf
- Watt, T. T., Seoyoun Kim, & Garrison, K. (2018). The Relationship between State Supports and Post-Secondary Enrollment among Youth Aging Out of Foster Care: An Analysis of the National Youth in Transition Database. Child Welfare, 96(3), 1. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.nicholls.edu:2443/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f6h&AN=131357341&site=eds-live
- Zaff, J. F., Donlan, A., Gunning, A., Anderson, S. E., McDermott, E., & Sedaca, M. (2017). Factors That Promote High School Graduation: A Review of the Literature. Educational Psychology Review, 29(3), 447–476. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.nicholls.edu:2443/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1150779&site=eds-live
- Dept of child and family services. Building a better Louisiana
- Study on Foster Care Youth High School/GED Completion
- This study measures the number of foster care youth that graduated high school or completed a GED program by age 18, 21 or later. This study uses participants that are voluntary and remain anonymous. No information such as names gathered in this study will be used for purposes of completing this study.