States cut loose foster kids when they age out of programs at 18, and the abrupt cutoff usually takes a toll on their prospects for success, says a new study. The University of Chicago survey found that by 24, just 6% of former foster kids have a college degree of any kind, more than two-thirds of women have children, and almost 60% of men have been convicted of a crime. And it’s not surprising, say advocates.
“We go from 'you're in foster care, where you may handle $10 a month' to 'you're responsible for everything,’” a nonprofit leader tells NPR. “We need to offer something for these young people other than, 'Here's Option A: Fall off the cliff.’” Still, even enlightened programs like one in Florida have to make do with damaged 18-year-olds. One newly independent young man gets $1,256 a month from the state—but can’t cook a hamburger.