A recent column in The Chronicle of Social Change talks about how difficult it is for foster youths in the United States to transition out of care when they turn 18, and how social capital can help those youths, especially when it comes to finding affordable housing.
"Imagine that on your 18th birthday, someone who you trust dearly calls to inform you that you are no longer welcome in your own home after years of living there. This person isn’t your brother, cousin, aunt, or uncle. It’s a social worker, the person representing you while you are in foster care.
Your social worker calls to inform you that the foster home you were living in for three years no longer wants you there because the government stopped paying for your bed. She explains that you need to leave the home within the week, but by the time you reach the doorstep to retrieve your belongings, they are already packed into garbage bags and waiting for you on the porch.
Your transition into adulthood has abruptly begun. This was my experience.
Most young people look forward to the day they will turn 18. It marks the beginning of a time for exploration, growth, and new beginnings. But for young people who grow up in the U.S. foster care system, turning 18 can often be a troubling and startling experience.
Too many youth emancipate from foster care without the social capital invested in their teenage peers. By social capital, I mean the critical factors that help most young people transition to adulthood: stable housing, assistance with education, and supportive adult relationships."