Former foster youth studied in California, Minnesota and North Carolina had low rates of employment at age 24 compared to other low-income youth and to national comparison group of similarly aged youth. Additionally, female employment was higher than male employment, but they earned much less than their male counterparts, and African American unemployment rate was much higher than their White peers. Most problematic, the employment gaps worsen as foster youth age. By age 30, employment rates for former foster youth are 15% lower than other low-income youth.
The 2014 study published in Children and Youth Services Review found that placement stability in foster care had no impact on employment outcomes. Staying in foster care past the age of 18 had a positive impact on employment outcomes, which the researchers speculate is related to higher educational attainment. Work experience prior to age 18 also had a positive impact on employment outcomes, but the researchers warn this may be the result of other characteristics that they did control for.
This study shows that extended foster care has a positive impact on employment, but that foster youth may need further supports throughout their twenties as they try to establish a stable work life or career.