Older child adoption is a wonderful thing. Currently there are over 100,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of teens in care will age out of the foster system without finding a stable, loving family. In 2015 alone, 20,787 teens and young adults aged out of the foster system without a family on which to rely. Outcomes for youth who age out of care are not positive:
While adopting an older child from foster care is the best way to ensure that one or more children does not age out without a family, there are things that you can do to help teens and young adults who have aged out. Below are 15 ways you can help if you are not able to adopt:
1. Become an after school/college tutor.
2. Donate school supplies to local foster care agencies.
3. Develop a college and scholarship fund.
4. Teach youth money skills and the importance of saving.
5. Help youth open up a bank account.
6. Donate household goods to local foster care agency.
7. Donate furniture and clothing to local foster care agency.
8. Teach youth importance of good health and hygiene.
9. Show former foster youth how to read food labels, and how to choose fresh and nutritional food.
10. Teach youth how to cook and prepare a variety of healthy meals, and the importance of a good diet.
11. Be a transport/driver to youth who have aged out, driving them to job interviews, doctor appointments, etc.
12. If you own a business, give discounts on services and goods.
13. If you own a business, consider hiring former foster youth, and train them with skills.
14. Be a mentor, teaching them important social and communication skills.
15. Be a friend, willing to listen and willing to help.
*Bonus* Adopt! There are over 100,000 children in care waiting to be adopted. One of the best ways to help is to make sure children never age out without a family.
The realities that youth face when they age out without a loving and stable family are hard to swallow, but with help of caring people in the community, we can not only make sure that less children age out of foster care but we can ensure that supports are in place to help those who do.
If you or someone you know is interested in older child adoption, please contact Alex Williams, PWNL Outreach and Program Support Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-664-9664.
Resources: Foster Care Statistics; 15 Ways to Help Youth Who Age Out of Foster Care; Aging Out Statistics and Infographic