In an effort to highlight the most important issues identified by foster youth, advocacy organization Foster Youth in Action conducted a poll last October of more than 500 foster youth. Results indicated that sibling visitation, homelessness prevention, college access and success, and opportunities for independent living are the top priorities among current and former foster youth.
Fifty-two percent of respondents expressed a desire to strengthen the rights of youth to see siblings, and 47 percent stated the importance of increasing safe and affordable housing for youth after leaving care. Providing foster youth with assistance in gaining access to and navigating college and other opportunities garnered the votes of 46 percent of youth, while 44 percent said improved support services to aid youth in being successful and independent in adulthood was important.
The survey included 525 current and former foster youth from more than 25 states and also incorporated the responses of 176 foster parents, social workers, and other adult professionals who work closely with foster youth.
The current and former foster youth polled ranged in age from the early teens to the early 30s, and priorities changed over time. For example, while the issue of healing from trauma registered as a concern for only 29 percent of youth ages 13 to 17, that number spiked among youth 25 years of age and older, earning 63 percent of votes. (It was the number one priority for former foster youth age 31 or older.) A similar example was the concern of homelessness prevention. Being of importance to only 30 percent of the youth ages 13 to 17, it nearly doubled at 58 percent for those ages 18 to 24.
Foster Youth in Action (FYA) is a national organization that works to harness the power of the voice of foster youth to fight for and secure their rights. In October of 2016, FYA held its annual Leaders for Change 2016 conference, where young people ages 16 to 26 from varying local, state, and national leadership organizations, as well as adult allies, assembled in Washington, D.C. to discuss issues faced by foster youth. In efforts to cultivate awareness, youth leaders held a press conference and visited the offices of 25 different legislators.
For more information on Foster Youth in Action, visit here.