Kansas’ Department for Children and Families is being audited by the Kansas State Legislature on a range of issues, one of which concerns the privatization of the state’s foster care program, which critics contend has created a profit-motivated demand for the separation of families, in much the same fashion that private prisons create a demand for prisoners. State officials often state that children are only placed in foster care when it is in the child’s best interest.
According to the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, approximately 28,000 children age out of foster care every year. Aging out occurs when a child becomes 18 and is no longer eligible for placement in a foster home. Once they reach adulthood, unlike children living in their own homes, many of these young men and women are simply left to fend for themselves.
According to a study conducted by the Urban Institute, children in foster care are less likely to be employed than children living in the general population. The same study concludes that education rates for foster children are also lower, with foster children being less likely to graduate high school, and less likely to attend college.
According to experts, as many as 45% of former foster children will experience homelessness in their first year of adulthood. A survey conducted in Minneapolis and reported to Congress found that 39% of the long-term homeless population had been in state custody as children.
Research conducted by the General Accounting Office shows that children in the child welfare system are significantly more likely to be using doctor prescribed psychotropic pharmaceutical drugs. In 2008, 39% of children in foster care were receiving these powerful, mind-altering medications, compared with just 5-10% of children in the general population.
The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness has found that former foster children are 30% more likely to be substance abusers in adulthood than those who were raised at home.
Children living in foster care, according to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, are four times more likely to sexually abused by foster parents than children living at home are by their biological parents.
Children who age of out of foster care are also highly likely to serve time in prison. According to expert Beth Azar, at one time, 80% of the prisoners in Illinois state prisons were former foster children. A similar survey conducted in Connecticut found that 75% of the inmates in state prison had been in foster care as children.