Facts About Foster Youth

BFC Stats

Research has clearly shown that foster and probation youth leave care unprepared for self-sufficiency. The mental and emotional challenges, the lack of stability and personal attachments, and the violence and abuse foster youth experience translate into disproportionately high rates of homelessness, incarceration, unemployment, poor academic achievement and reliance on public assistance.

At age 18, and is some cases 21, foster youth “emancipate” or age-out of the foster care system and are left to fend for themselves.  Without the benefit of enduring relationships, role models, or the support (financial as well as emotional) of family and community members, foster youth enter the world of independence alone and unprepared. The figures speak for themselves:

Educational Challenges

  • Only 46% of foster youth graduate from high school
  • 97% of all foster youth won’t complete a Bachelor’s degree 
  • Less than 1% of all foster youth will earn a Masters or Doctoral degree
  • 75% of former foster youth perform below grade level, and by third grade 80% have had to repeat a grade.
  • By grade 11, only 1 in 5 foster youth is proficient in English, and 1 in 20 is proficient in math.

Likelihood of Incarceration

  • 70% of all California State Prison inmates are former foster youth 
  • One in four become incarcerated within two years of aging-out of foster care
  • 87% of foster youth in the juvenile justice system have learning disabilities

Unemployment and Public Assistance

  • 36% of California foster youth become homeless within 18 months of aging-out of foster care
  • Half are unemployed within 2-4 years of aging-out of foster care. 40% on public assistance within 2-4 years of aging-out of foster care

Other Facts about Foster Youth

  • 28,000 children are currently in foster care in Los Angeles County
  • 38% of California’s foster care population is in Los Angeles County
  • 50% of all female foster youth will become pregnant by age 19. 75% of women in foster care report being pregnant at age 21, compared to only 33% of those in the general population
  • Nearly half of foster care children have learning disabilities or developmental delays
  • Nearly 2,000 youth are enrolled in extended foster care in Los Angeles County (foster care after age 18)