As a teenager, I fought to keep a roof over my head and provide for my newborn child, living at times in a homeless shelter. Years later, as a foster parent, I saw firsthand the challenges and trauma foster youth face as they move from home to home, longing for a sense of stability amid the chaos of life in the foster system. So I understand the challenges New York City’s foster youth face.
Most children and teens have a parent or family member to help them reach such milestones as graduation or a first job. But those in foster care often navigate life-altering transitions on their own. Only 22% will have a high school diploma or equivalency by the time they age out of foster care at age 21, and a shocking 20% will be homeless by the time they turn 24. A disproportionate number will become involved with the justice system, face chronic unemployment or early parenthood, and rely on social services for support.
New York City must do more to give these young people the tools they need to be self-sufficient adults. By making an annual investment of just $50 million in long-term coaching and academic and vocational supports for foster youth from middle school to age 26, we can transform lives and save taxpayer dollars in the long run.
However, Mayor Bill de Blasio failed to include any funds for this programming in his executive budget. This must be remedied in the final budget the council and mayor agree upon in June…