The other day my Treehouse colleagues and I met to identify the best ways to support a group of young people living on Treehouse Circle. They will all be graduating from high school over the next four years and we want to help them achieve their life goals. So we made a list of the kids and their aspirations. Then we sat back and reflected on the life trajectories of this amazing group of young men and women.
One young man, who is currently editing his college admissions essay, is searching for a college or university that will help him focus on Environmental Science and Theatre. His sister is looking at colleges that will lead her into the fields of Social Work and Education. Their neighbor is applying to Culinary Schools so she can be a chef on a cruise ship. One of her big sisters plans to be a Physical Therapist. Another is taking the necessary courses that will lead her to a career as a clothing designer.
Our young people at Treehouse are wonderful examples of how children who have experienced foster care can flourish when we help them find their places in loving, connected families and supportive communities.
Unfortunately, this group of Treehouse teenagers is the exception. The outlook for most kids who have been in foster care isn’t as optimistic.
There are nearly 500,000 children in foster care in the U.S. Each year, 25,000 of these kids “age out” of state child welfare systems and are sent out into the world without all the supports we take for granted: enduring family relationships, community connections, a home.
The result: they face homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, teen parenting, isolation and exploitation as they make their way into adulthood. There is no one investing in their lives or their futures. No adults are listening to their dreams, offering to mentor them, or connect them to the right people and resources to guide them. No one is giving them feedback on their college admissions essays, taking them to visit schools, or even making sure they have a hot meal.
• 65% emancipate from foster care without a place to live.
• 25% become homeless within the first two years
• 51% are unemployed
• 25% become incarcerated
• Less than 3% go to college
• Within 4 years, 60% have had children, and those children are twice as likely to be placed in foster care.
It’s time to come together to create new realities and life outcomes. For our children, future generations and our nation.
The Treehouse Foundation is leading the way forward. We are collaborating with an energetic, committed group of individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, child welfare organizations, educators, mental health professionals, colleges, universities, and visionary funders to Re-Envision Foster Care in America.
Please join us! To find out how you can offer your expertise, time and financial resources, go to www.treehousecommunities.org.