Foster Youth not having proper identification renders them completely unidentifiable in the community
Currently, many youth in foster care lack access to their vital life documents such as social security cards, birth certificates, and picture identification. These documents are commonly lost or simply not transferred as a child moves from home to home. As a result, foster youth lose their sense of identity, may forget their date of birth, and face tremendous difficulties when searching for employment. Most often, youth without identification end up homeless, incarcerated, unemployed, and uneducated.
Los Angeles County has the highest population of foster youth in the country, with its numbers totaling over 40,000. Annually, approximately 1,500 youth are forced out of this system without support due to their age, a process known as ‘aging-out.’ Overall, California’s data indicates that outcomes for youth ‘aging-out’ are deficiencies in education, employment, income, and housing, which are all key indicators for self-sufficiency.
Overall, California’s data indicates that outcomes for youth aging out of foster care are poor. Specifically, the data reflects deficiencies in education, employment and housing, all of which are key indicators for self-sufficiency. According to the California Department of Social Services – Child Welfare Data Analysis Bureau:
High School Education or Equivalency: Less than half (49.5%) of foster youth leave care with a high school diploma or equivalency. Only 40% of youth actually have a diploma – the remaining 9.5% have high school equivalency or proficiency certificates.
Employment: Only 29% of youth report having obtained either part-time or full-time employment. Of those youth, nearly 80% are employed part-time. Almost 10% of youth have no means of financial support at all.
Housing: More than 84% of youth report having plans for housing at the time of emancipation. Anecdotal reports indicate that many plans are only temporary. Only 15% of youth live in some kind of supportive transitional housing, including the Transitional Housing Program.
Incarceration: 40% of former foster youth are a cost to the community. The cost to the community occurs within 2-4 years of emancipation because 40% of emancipated youth have been on public assistance or incarcerated by that time. The State must bear the following significant economic and other costs of youth who end up incarcerated: Criminal justice costs (i.e., operation of criminal justice system in terms of police, prosecution, courts, probation, incarceration, parole etc.) Property damage, Loss of productivity to society, Loss of work time by victims, their families and the offender, Loss of property values in areas of high crime, Pain and suffering of crime victims and society.
As a result, youth in foster care are more at risk of dropping out of school, becoming unemployable, homeless which leads to incarceration.