Foster Youth & Transition Age Youth Fact Sheet by the Foster Youth Museum

  • There are more than 60,000 kids in foster care in California.
  • An estimated 29,500 youth were emancipated from foster care in FY 2008 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009).
  • Youth transitioning from out-of-home placements, such as foster care, experience high rates of involvement in the criminal justice system (Altschuler, Strangler, Berkley & Burton, 2009).
  • Between 11 and 37% of youth who age out of foster care have experienced homelessness (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2014).
  • Three in ten homeless adults have had experience in the foster care system (Gardner, 2008).
  • Four years after leaving foster care, 46% of young people lack a high-school diploma (National League of Cities, 2005).
  • The average amount of time each child spends in foster care is over two years.2
  • Around 43,000 children stayed in the foster care system for five years or more.
  • About 25,000 older youth “age out” of foster care each year without a permanent family to support them.
  • Over a third of foster youth earn neither a high school diploma nor a GED.10
  • Fewer than half of young adults were employed 12 to 18 months after aging out of the foster care system.11
  • One third of youth who age out of the foster care system evidence mental health problems, the most prevalent diagnoses being Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcohol or substance abuse, and major depression.12
  • Approximately one third of foster children will receive some form of public assistance shortly after aging out of the system.13
  • About one fourth of foster youth will be incarcerated within the first two years after they leave the system.14
  • Almost one quarter of those who have exited foster care have reported to be homeless at least once since leaving the system.15
  • Over two thirds of those who have been released from foster care have reported to have needed food stamps.16

 Sources & Resources:

Here are some additional ways to learn more about the changing landscape of foster care in California: