The increase in the number of youth in foster care is sobering. As of 2012, there were approximately 3,700 youth who were in the custody of the State of Kansas or Missouri residing in the Kansas City Metro Area. The community has been unable to provide the foster home placements needed. Of children in out of home care less than twelve months, those ages 13-15 have experienced more placements than any other age groups.
The National Runaway Switchboard estimates that on any given night there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friends or with strangers. Homeless youth are at a higher risk for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, mental health disabilities, substance abuse, and death. It is estimated that 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year as a result of assault, illness, or suicide.
On any given night in Greater Kansas City there are 2,000 “unattached” teens living on the streets, sleeping in cars, or “couch surfing” with friends because they do not have a safe place to live. Many are abused and neglected kids who have run away from home.
FOSTER YOUTH AGING OUT
The situation is vastly different for approximately 25,000 youth in foster care who have been in the custody of the state prior to becoming an adult and “aging out”. These young people are often faced with navigating this difficult transition with little to no support. Without the support they need, the outcomes experienced by these young adults are alarming.
The personal impact to these young people should be cause alone to motivate us to act.