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National Council on Disability Says Older Youth with Disabilities Falling Through Cracks in Foster Care System

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Feb. 26, 2008

WASHINGTON—The National Council on Disability (NCD) today released Youth with Disabilities in the Foster Care System: Barriers to Success and Proposed Policy Solutions (/FosterCareSystem_Report.html). The report focuses on the unique challenges older youth with disabilities face as they negotiate the foster care system.

According to NCD Chairperson John R. Vaughn, “The goal for our country’s youth is to live healthy, happy lives and to become self-sufficient, contributing members of society as adults. However, there are subsets of youth who cannot reach these goals with ease. These youth need additional supports to assist them in their journey toward a healthy adulthood, as they are more vulnerable than the ‘average’ youth and thus are more apt to fall through the cracks during their journey. Youth development researchers have determined that some specific youth populations are more vulnerable than others. This report examines one exceptionally challenged group in particular: older youth (specifically, preteens through young adults) with disabilities who are involved in the foster care system.”

“The child welfare community generally accepts the fact that, while the American foster care system has come a long way in recent years, there is still much to be done to ensure the health and well-being of the children and youth it serves. Likewise, the disability community has seen great improvements in recent years but still advocates for additional needed change. But what is often overlooked among experts in both of these realms is the idea that foster care is indeed both a child welfare issue and a disability issue. This is due to the alarmingly high numbers of foster youth with mental, developmental, emotional, learning, and physical disabilities. The purpose of this report, therefore, is to shift the lens through which youth advocates and service providers view the importance of ensuring the well-being of foster youth. This new lens asserts the importance of understanding the prevalence of disability among foster youth and better ascertaining who should be held accountable for this uniquely challenged and often underserved population,” Vaughn concluded.

NCD is an independent federal agency and is composed of 15 members appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. NCD provides advice to the President, Congress, and executive branch agencies to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that—
(A) guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability; and
(B) empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.

NCD.gov

An official website of the National Council on Disability