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Initial findings show positive results for foster youth remaining in care

Extensive information on foster youth to inform future decisions

February 04, 2014

Karen Smigielski

PDF version of news release

Foster youth who remain in care beyond age 18 fare better than their counterparts who leave care, preliminary data of a multi-year study shows.

With this first-of-its kind data collection on youth who are in or leaving the foster care system, the Minnesota Department of Human Services is tracking the status of youth at age 17, 19 and 21; the services they receive; and their outcomes when they remain in or leave the foster care system. Of those 19-year-olds who responded to the survey as 17-year-olds and again two years later, results were positive for those who remained in foster care:

Youth in foster care Youth discharged from foster care
Completed high school or received GED 82 percent    63 percent
Enrolled in/attending school 64 percent 39 percent
Received financial aid for education 30 percent 12 percent
Reported being homeless in prior two years 12 percent 41 percent

“This data clearly show the value of the policy allowing youth to remain in foster care beyond age 18, rather than leaving the system and striking out on their own,” said Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “While foster care is meant to be temporary and our goal is always to find safe, permanent homes for youth in foster care, remaining in care offers youth at this tenuous age the supports they won’t likely get on their own.”
In each of the surveys, youth answer questions about:

  • Financial self-sufficiency
  • Experience with homelessness
  • Educational attainment
  • Positive adult connections
  • High risk behavior
  • Access to health insurance.

Youth who remain in foster care access services paid for primarily by county and federal funds, and supported by the state. According to the data results, of those still in foster care, 61 percent are receiving services such as mentoring, family support, budgeting and financial planning. Only 4 percent of those discharged from care received independent living skills services. Of those discharged from foster care:

  • 9 percent are receiving public housing assistance
  • 18 percent are receiving public financial assistance
  • 28 percent are receiving public food assistance.

“While we recognize this is only the first data set, we are encouraged and eager to see what the data from the next several years reveals,” said Jesson.

Using U.S. Department of Health and Human Services John H. Chafee funds, targeted to assist current and former foster youth make the transition from foster care to self-sufficiency, the department contracted with The Improve Group, a research, evaluation, planning and coaching consultation firm, to survey these youth over the course of the study.

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