It doesn’t take long to gather that the child welfare system is widely misunderstood. This is due to our society’s general lack of knowledge on the issue, and as a result, people draw conclusions about foster care from outdated stereotypes or scenarios they’ve seen on TV.
Let’s identify three child welfare myths and rectify common notions that simply aren’t true.
1. Foster Youth Are Unemployable
While it’s true that 50% of foster youth will be unemployed within 4 years of aging out of the foster care system, and those with earnings will have an average income of only $7,500 per year, this in no way means that they are unemployable. What it means is they are not set up to succeed.
Foster youth are just as talented and ambitious as other youth, and are eager to learn and to prove themselves. However, many lack the resources and mentorship necessary to push them in the right direction and help them find jobs and careers that match their skill sets and interests.
That’s why iFoster launched the iFoster Jobs Program. The Jobs Program uses a trauma and evidence informed curriculum, addresses the specific resource needs of each youth, and matches them to competitive living wage jobs at over 25 major employer partners.
In three years, over 500 foster youth have earned great jobs through the program. Our Jobs Program Youth are more than twice as likely to keep their jobs and be promoted faster than entry level employees from outside of foster care.
This isn’t just great for foster youth and for employers, but it saves $1 million in societal costs for every youth we set up for success.
2. Foster Parents Are In It For The Money
The media often focuses only on the negative stories in foster care, which has lead many to generalize that foster parents are in it for the money.
The fact of the matter is that foster parents are not paid for their services — they are given a stipend to cover the child’s necessary expenses. On average, this stipend only covers 48% of what an average American family spends to raise a child. There is no profit motive in foster care.
Those who choose to become foster parents do it out of the kindness of their hearts and a desire to help young people in need in their communities. There are many reasons to become foster parents, but the money is not one of them.
3. The Child Welfare System Provides Everything Kids In Foster Care Need
The flip side of #2 is that if foster parents only receive 48% of what it costs to raise a child, then foster children are not getting the same investment in resources and opportunities that other children get. While the necessities for survival are covered — like shelter, food and clothing — the resources and experiences that most biological children have are not included.
Many resources exist to put foster youth on a successful, independent trajectory, but most people don’t know about them and therefore don’t access them. iFoster’s portal of resources provides free, up-to-date, relevant resources that foster youth and families need. For example, we provide laptops, textbooks, tutoring, healthcare and more for a fraction of the cost.
What We Can Do To Combat Public Misperceptions
The foster care system is moving in the right direction, but is by no means perfect. Thousands of people work diligently every day to improve the structure of the system and ensure our foster youth are in the best hands and care possible.
It’s important that we raise awareness and get more people involved in taking care of the 400,000+ kids in foster care in our nation each year. One voice is powerful — but two voices, or one hundred voices, or one thousand voices — is where we can make a difference.
Share your knowledge with others. Learn more about who iFoster is, what we do, and how to join our family here. A small investment of time, money and resources can change a life.