Making the Child Welfare System Work for Older Youth

The Urban Institute, in partnership with the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, brought a panel of national experts on child welfare and adolescent development together on June 14 in Washington, DC. The panel included Rudy Estrada, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Coordinator at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services; Karin Malm, Urban Institute’s Child Welfare Research Program; Britany Orlebeke, Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago; Madeleine Krebs, Clinical Coordinator at the Center for Adoption Support and Education; and Laura Sessions Stepp, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Washington Post and author. To read the full report click here.

The panelists reviewed research that reveals a national trend of older adolescents (13-16) entering out-of-home placements through child protection. The majority of older adolescents in foster care, however, exit into a runaway situation, juvenile justice detention, or simply age out without family reunification or adoption. Only a minority of older adolescents (43 percent) are reunited with their families or are adopted. The older a youth becomes, the less likely they receive a positive outcome of adoption or family reunification. One troubling finding is that up to 21percent of surveyed youth cases exit care through a runaway (and possible homeless) circumstance.

Panelists spoke to a wide range of approaches and practices that may hold promise in offering permanency and positive life outcomes for older adolescents.

To read the full report click here.