Numerous publications have pointed out the failures of the foster care system. The 1999 Little Hoover Commission Report, Now in Our Hands: Caring For California’s Abused & Neglected Children, detailed the perils that face children in California who are neglected or abused, and shows the overall poor system outcomes for youth exiting the foster care system:
- 37% - 55% do not complete high school
- 25% - 51% unemployed
- 32% - 47% received public assistance
- 18% - 42% incarcerated
- 40% - 60% had birthed or fathered an unplanned child
- 10% - 35% homeless for some period of time
"... within two years after leaving foster care, when most of these youths are about 20 years old, only half have completed high school, fewer than half are employed, only about 20 percent are completely self-supporting, and 60 percent of the young women have given birth, almost always outside marriage. Research also shows that these youths have very unstable housing arrangements and that nearly half of them have difficulty obtaining medical care." - Congresswoman Nancy L. Johnson (R-CT), Challenges Confronting Older Children Leaving Foster Care PDF File (Attachment B)
In a February 4, 2003 letter to the Governor, introducing its follow up report, Still in Our Hands: A Review of Efforts to Reform Foster Care in California, the Little Hoover Commission stated: “The 2002-03 budget for foster care services is $2.2 billion. Yet despite this enormous price tag, we continue to fail these children. In many cases the system fails to meet formal standards of care. In some extreme but intolerable cases, the level of care is no better than the abusive homes from which those children were rescued. During the last three years:
- An additional 100,000 children have experienced abuse or neglect that is so severe as to warrant their removal from their homes.
- An estimated 25 percent of the children in foster care have not received timely medical care and 50 percent have not received appropriate mental health services.
- While the failure of the educational system to meet the needs of these children is well documented, officials have not even agreed on who is in charge of this issue.
- Unemployment rates for emancipated youth are still estimated at 50 percent.
- Most appalling, an estimated 2,800 children have emancipated from the foster care system only to become homeless.
- Los Angeles County alone has spent over $12 million to address lawsuits involving children who were neglected, harmed or killed while in foster care.”
The above data is based on the foster care system overall, it is not specific to residential treatment outcomes.