Older foster youth are the most marginalized youth population in the United States. Only a few programs exist to support these youth aging out of care. Communities have discovered there is a cost of doing nothing for the most at-risk youth.
The Coronavirus pandemic has magnified the challenges that older foster youth face on a regular basis. Under normal circumstances, inadequate development programs for foster youth ages 15+ have left over 5,000 youth in the State of Missouri isolated from the social connections and resources necessary to launch into self-sufficient adulthood.
Risk factors in foster youth ages 15-19
1. Delayed and lower education achievement
2. Early pregnancies
3. High incarceration rates
These risk factors often lead to lower income, unstable housing, and the absence of social support. These concerns have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the next 12 months will be critical to ensuring that Missouri’s older foster youth avoid a lifetime of great individual and societal costs.
Savings Created by the LifeStrengths Program
For over five years, I Pour Life has been combatting these negative outcomes through the LifeStrengths Positive Youth Development Program which has seen an 80% positive community impact rate. The LifeStrengths program pairs older foster youth with a one-on-one LifeCoach that provides developmental coaching which impacts the physical, mental, and economic capabilities of the youth.
Based on a sample of 240 youth, the Cost of Doing Nothing totals $2.5 million annually. The LifeStrengths program intervention reduces community costs by nearly half, saving $1.12 million every year. We know that providing older foster youth with tools for success sets them on a path to healthy adulthood. Every youth who transitions well into adulthood is one step closer to creating a stronger community.
Developing sustainable change among marginalized populations is at the core of what we do. Our LifeStrengths coaching program is provided at no charge to older foster youth. Each coach works one-on-one with youth in LifeStrengths to develop skills and instill confidence that leads to life-changing personal development.
We know firsthand the impact that COVID-19 and the subsequent challenges of 2020 are presenting and will continue to cause in the future if we choose to do nothing.