Welcome back and thanks for joining us again for this discussion on how the Michigan foster system doesn’t do enough for kids aging out of the system. As we mentioned in the previous article, once kids reach 18 years of age they “age out” of foster care, which means the state is no longer responsible for their care and wellbeing. But just because a kid is no longer legally considered to be a minor overnight, doesn’t mean they’re ready to tackle adulthood on their own without any kind of support system. And yet that’s what most former foster kids are expected to do. And for many of them, they’re simply not up to the challenge.
Foster kids walk a rough road to adulthood, and struggle once they get there.
Most foster kids have walked a very rough road once they hit 18. Many have sustained some type of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. They also experienced the trauma of being removed from their homes and being bounced around through a parade of strangers’ homes. Most of them struggle with trust and have difficulty forming long term relationships, which is the result of moving from family to family after losing their own, and also because of whatever abuse or neglect they may have sustained, to begin with.
Most foster kids grapple with mental health issues as well, making it even harder!
And then there’s the mental health issue. Most kids aging out of the foster system suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, or some other trauma-related form of mental illness. Many don’t get the treatment they need to address these issues, and once they age out they’re completely on their own. Young, unsupported people managing mental health conditions often struggle with the challenges of daily life. Things like finding and keeping a decent job, getting into college and then keeping up with classes, and even sustaining healthy relationships.
Michigan could do more to ensure that former foster kids do well in life
In any given year there are about 13,000 kids in foster care in Michigan. About 900 of them age out every year, to be replaced by an endless stream of new kids being absorbed into the system. But for those 900 kids who shuffle of the foster coil, so to speak, there is almost nothing in place to ensure that they succeed in life. No family ties, no agencies set up to provide help, guidance or support, no hotline to call with questions, or center they can visit when they’re struggling. They are completely alone in the world, which is very tough!
If you’re going to take away their families, you’re responsible for their futures
As Michele Corey of Michigan’s Children, a Lansing nonprofit advocacy organization points out in an interview with Bridge, the state has an obligation to these kids. “We have created this situation for these kids. We have removed them from their families. The state is responsible for their care and we are doing a pretty bad job of it.” So what can be done to fix this situation? MDHHS says they’re aware of the problem of kids being unsupported as they’re aging out of the system, and they’re taking steps to address it. But while we wait for that to happen, hundreds of kids fall through the cracks every year, which is a tragedy!
Protect your children from time spent in the foster system!
We are experienced pro-parent attorneys, and believe very strongly that, whenever possible, children should stay with their parents. So if you’ve been accused of abuse or neglect and you’re worried about losing your child to the foster system, call 866 766 5245 right now to get help! And don’t forget to join us next time for the wrap up of this article on how the foster system fails kids aging out. It might be a sad topic to read about, but it’s very important, and impacts thousands of Michigan’s future parents and workforce members every year!