orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

December 24, 2013

Lifelong Struggles Facing TX Foster Kids Who Age Out

Texas News Service
The Orange Leader

AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of children have already gotten their Christmas wish this year: finding a forever home. However, for thousands more in foster care, especially those who are older, the wait continues.



Ashley Harris, child welfare policy associate, Texans Care for Children, said teens are the hardest to place, and they're more apt to face negative life events.



"Only about half of foster youth graduate from high school. Thirty percent of homeless adults report having been involved in a foster-care system. And while 70 percent of foster youth say they want to attend college, less than 5 percent actually receive a college degree," Harris said.



There are a number of efforts to get those kids on a better life track. Harris said they include a voluntary program where youngsters can stay in the system until they are 21, "just to get their educational needs met and work on some additional independent living skills before they leave the foster care system. Texas also provides college tuition support. Additionally, older youth who age out of the foster system in Texas can receive health insurance until they're 26."



Currently, more than 16,000 children are in state foster care in Texas, and about 2,000 age out of the system every year.



More information about Texas foster care is available at http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/.