FAILINGS OF AN OVERBURDENED SYSTEM — A REVIEW

When children spend most of their formative years in the foster care system, and then are turned out because they’ve reached the age of eighteen (or nineteen in some situations), the results can be devastating.

On Their Own: What Happens to Kids When They Age Out of the Foster Care System zeroes in on these issues in great detail, sharing facts, figures, and anecdotal stories of featured young people. How they came into the system, the experiences they had, and what happened to them during the transition out of care.

These stories were not new to me, having worked for many years in the system as a social worker; I could definitely connect with what happened to these young people, as I’d seen many of these events firsthand.

Throughout this chronicle, the authors talked about different programs that successfully helped young people transition, and also shared legislation that offers a hopeful future for children in this situation.

Most of us know from experience that children are not ready to be independent and fully functioning at eighteen, nineteen, or possibly even twenty-one. And when you factor in the scenarios experienced by children in care who are “protected” by law and not offered opportunities to experience independence, you compound the problem.

Budgetary constraints are often the obstacles that prevent more help for these children. Community support can turn these issues around when private agencies partner with governmental agencies.

The authors bring out some recent changes:

“The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative is a national effort to help young people make successful transitions from foster care to adulthood. Formed by two of the nation’s leading foundations focused exclusively on child and youth well-being, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Casey Family Programs, the Initiative strives to bring together the people and resources to help young people make the connections they need to education, employment, health care, housing, and permanent, family-like relationships.”

A probing, detailed illustrated journey that takes the reader right to the heart of the problem, I recommend this book to anyone who cares about the youth of our nation; especially those most vulnerable because of their life experiences. Five stars.

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