Each year, an average of 25,000 young people ages 18–21 must leave foster care. These young people have experienced maltreatment and lived with instability, so it is not surprising that they are often ill prepared to suddenly live independently.
Numerous studies demonstrate that youth who age out of care face challenges that can plague them throughout the course of their lives:
- One in five foster care alumni experienced homelessness within a year after leaving care.
- One in four of these youth will be incarcerated within the first two years after they leave the system.
- The rate of post-traumatic stress disorder among alumni was nearly five times that of the general population. At 21.5%, it exceeds rates for American war veterans.
In 2011, National CASA completed a pilot training initiative to prepare CASA volunteers to change these dismal figures by preparing older youth for a successful transition from care. More than 1,200 volunteers across the country were trained using this new Fostering Futures curriculum during the 2011 pilot of the program.
Evaluation of the pilot supported the effectiveness of the Fostering Futures training. Ninety-four percent of pilot sites reported that their volunteers’ confidence to serve older youth increased as a result of this project. Volunteers participating in a wrap-up focus group unanimously agreed that the program had a positive impact on the youth they worked with.
With the release of the Fostering Futures curriculum to the entire CASA network in 2012, volunteers throughout the country will gain skills needed to give children leaving care a chance at a stable, successful future.