The Center for State Child Welfare Data at the University of Chicago Chapin Hall released “Understanding the Differences in How Adolescents Leave Foster Care” in November 2017.
The report finds age, gender, and racial differences for how adolescents leave foster care. Most foster youth leaving foster care for the first time will move to permanency, including reunification, adoption, and guardianship. The second most likely ways for youth to leave foster care is to age out or to run away. Female foster youth are more likely to run away from foster care than males, with female youth entering the foster care system at age 15 having the highest risk of running away.
In addition, Black youth are less likely than white or Hispanic youth to leave foster care through adoption, reunification, or guardianship. Finally, the older a youth is when they enter the foster care system the less likely they are to find a permanent home before aging out. Additionally, foster youth in urban areas are less likely to achieve permanency. Runaway rates are also higher in urban areas. Socioeconomic status of a county did not impact permanency outcomes.
This research highlights the disparate outcomes for Black youth and females, and that the child welfare system needs to develop interventions for these vulnerable populations that lead to higher levels of permanency as well as lowering the risk of teen-age girls running away from foster care when they are also so vulnerable to human trafficking and other risks.