Youth with Disabilities in the Foster Care System: Barriers to Success and Proposed Policy Solutions
February 26, 2008
SCOPE AND PURPOSE:
The purpose of this report is to provide policymakers, primarily at the federal and state levels, with information about youth with disabilities in foster care, so that policymakers can begin to understand the characteristics of this population; the challenges they face; how they fare with regard to safety, permanency, self-determination and self-sufficiency, enhanced quality of life, and community integration; and how the complex array of existing programs and services could be better designed to improve these outcomes.
This report will shed light on the poor outcomes of youth with disabilities in foster care, especially with regard to education, employment, and other indicators of well-being. While the federal investment in the multiple systems with which these youth come in contact is significant, the disconnectedness and lack of coordination across programs and agencies call into question the effectiveness of government efforts. The report will therefore describe various policy recommendations for federal and state policymakers that focus on improving coordination, holding systems accountable, developing leadership and the capacity of the system to work more effectively with these youth, improving transitions to adulthood and educational outcomes for them, and better data-sharing and information management.