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.
The Results are Devastating:
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.
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.