Homelessness and the transition from foster care to adulthood

Existing research indicates that homelessness is a serious problem among young people ageing out of foster care. However, these studies have not attempted to identify potential risk or protective factors that might affect the likelihood of becoming homeless during the transition to adulthood. This paper, using data from a longitudinal study, examined both the occurrence and predictors of homelessness among a sample of young people from three Midwestern states, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, who recently aged out of foster care. Six hundred and three participants took part. Findings showed that 14% reported being homeless at some point after exiting care, of which 54% reported being homeless more than once. Two third of those reporting being homeless at some point were made homeless within the first six months of leaving care. Running away from care on more than one occasion was associated with an eight-fold increase in the likelihood of becoming homeless, and being in group care quadrupled the chances. There was also a correlation in homelessness with the number of delinquent behaviours the young people engaged in. However, those that stayed in care until the age of 19 experienced more positive, and fewer negative outcomes. With the introduction of the Fostering Connections to Success and increasing Adoptions Act, 2008, funding will be available to states who keep young people in care for an addition three years, up to the age of 21, which, he author suggests, may reduce homelessness amongst this group

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Child Welfare