NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 10, 2007

After leaving foster care, many children end up homeless, without adequate access to health care, say researchers in a report published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

According to researchers:

  • A little more than 14 percent of youth who had left the foster care system had experienced homelessness.
  • Roughly 39 percent had unstable housing arrangements, meaning that since leaving foster care they had moved three or more times or had spent more than half of their income on rent.

Moreover, the team found "high rates" of poor access to health care among all emancipated youth and experiencing homelessness significantly increased the odds of being uninsured and having unmet health care needs:

  • The uninsured rates ranged from about 46 percent of the stably housed ex-foster care youth to 77 percent of those who experienced homelessness; by comparison, roughly 30 percent of young adults in the general population report an episode of being uninsured.
  • Some 22 percent of emancipated foster youth reported an unmet need for medical care, with up to 41 percent of those with homelessness having unmet health care needs, compared with 12 percent of young adults in the general population.
  • Overall, 12 percent of emancipated youth had fair or poor health status.

"It makes no sense," say Dr. Peter J. Pecora and Tiffany Washington of Casey Family Programs, Seattle, "to spend tens of thousands of dollars to care for young people during childhood, only to ignore their developmental needs and abandon them as young adults."

Source: "No home, no health care may await ex-foster kids," Reuters, October 9, 2007.

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