In order to better understand challenges faced by foster care alumni during the Covid-19 pandemic Partners for our Children partnered with Think of Us and created two briefs. Think of Us developed a micro-grant program for foster care alumni facing economic challenges during the pandemic, and Partners for our Children analyzed the data collected from this program to learn how foster care alumni, including those who have spent time in group homes, can be best supported
Our findings show that foster care alumni who lived in group homes experience lower degrees of well-being and greater barriers to college access and completion of higher education programs. The needs of this population were made particularly clear during the instability of the pandemic, as foster care alumni who have previously lived in group homes enrolled in and left school at higher rates than those foster care alumni with no group home experience. Beyond educational outcomes, students with group home experience also reported less housing stability, more food insecurity, and more discrimination experienced while in foster care.
We recommend efforts that bolster recruitment and retention of foster parents ready to care for teens as an alternative to group home placements. Other recommendations include making financial investments to support the educational and other basic needs of foster care alum who previously lived in group homes. Specifically, students in these programs need increased access to K-12 programming that can adequately prepare them to successfully apply and gain access to higher education, funding for financial assistance for school, greater access to experiential-based independent living trainings, and access to consistent, stable, and caring adults that can help them navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood.