In North Carolina, more kids are aging out of the foster care system without permanent families. That number has been on the rise for more than a decade, but it spiked again last year.
About 600 children are leaving the system without permanent families each year. The number jumped last year and is about double what it was in the early 2000s.
Matt Anderson, vice president of the Children's Home Society, said kids who age out are significantly impacted by the experience. He said the trend is significant because kids who age out have worse outcomes.
“Kids who age out of foster care are far less likely to have graduated high school than kids who did not grow up in foster care,” Andeson said. “The rates of homelessness are far higher, the rates of incarceration, the rates of substance abuse, the dependance on social services in adult life, food stamps and things along those lines, much, much higher with this population.”
The Children's Home Society calls the situation a crisis. The state has raised the foster care eligibility to age 21 this year as a remedy. Anderson says the Children's Home Society is working to place children in permanent homes, but more adoptive families are needed.
“Kids who age out of foster care in almost all cases have spent many, many years in foster care, sometimes as many as 10 years or more, essentially growing up through their childhood in a system, rather than in a family,” Anderson said.