The Crisis

Crisis in Our Community

There are over 1,000 children and youth who have been victims of abuse and neglect and are living in foster care as a ward of the San Francisco dependency court at this time – this equates to 1 child out of every 11 in our city.

And the problem doesn’t end there. Neglected and abused children have severe health, emotional and behavioral problems; suffer from developmental delays, physical disabilities and learning disabilities; and may have chronic birth defects associated prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol.

Services are available to foster youth in San Francisco, but the child welfare system does not have the resources to meet all the health, educational and housing needs of each individual child. No matter how urgent the need may be.
No matter how urgent the need may be.
Time Spent in Care (2011)



The Results are Devastating:

The Mis-Education of Foster Children
Foster children will be moved as many as 7 times, changing schools, losing connections to friends and relatives with every new placement. Many foster children suffer from learning disabilities or have other special needs. In addition:
  • A 2001 Bay Area study found that 68% of school-age children in foster care were identified as having special needs, but only 36% were receiving special education services.
  • California’s foster children attend an average of nine different schools by age 18.
  • 80% of foster children are held back in school by the third grade.
  • More than 50% of California’s foster youth will not graduate from high school.
  • Only 2% of CA’s foster youth earn a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Urgent Need for Healthcare
Abuse, especially of young children over a prolonged period, has been shown to affect brain development—including regions important in planning and exercising judgement—and is also associated with poor academic performance, low self-esteem, and behavioral problems.
  • The SF Dept. of Health reports that serious and chronic health and developmental problems occur five times more frequently among court-dependent children.
  • Studies show that 75% of foster youth exhibit severe emotional disturbances requiring intensive mental health services.

“Aging Out”—  The Future Looks Grim
Every year in California, 4,000 18-year-olds “age out” of the system. Half of SFCASA’s clients are ages 14-18 and at risk of future, interminable hardship as they near emancipation. According to a 2010 Human Rights Watch report, “California is failing in an essential duty to children in its care: to prepare them for adulthood and to survive independently.”

  • Each year 4,000 foster youth emancipate in California.
  • Within the first 2 to 4 years after “aging out” of the system:
      • 51% of these young adults are unemployed,
      • 40% are on public assistance,
      • 25% become homeless, and
      • 20% will be incarcerated.
  • Young women in foster care are more than twice as likely to have been pregnant by age 19 compared to their peers not in foster care.

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