Each year, approximately 1,200 young people ages 18 and older leave the New York City foster care system. According to the NYC Administration for Children’s Services, just 20% are discharged to the care of a parent, relative, or other adult. The remaining 80% are left to manage housing, education, employment, and health issues on their own.
Many of these young people are not up to the life challenges before them, without adequate resources and support. Foster youth are 44% less likely to complete high school than their age cohorts in general, and less than half of former foster youth are employed within four years of emancipation. Among a sample of youth tenants residing in Common Ground housing, 23% reported eighth grade was the highest level of education they completed, and just 8% attained job training or some higher education. Not surprisingly, 26% of the shelter population in New York City are graduates of foster care.
Common Ground’s Foyer program, started in 2004 in collaboration with Good Shepherd Services at our Christopher residence, was the first in the city to target young adults without families, a group identified in Mayor Bloomberg’s five-year plan to end homelessness as particularly vulnerable. The success of this pioneering program – and the dearth of housing units available to meet the need by our underserved youth population within the Foyer program – led to the development of our second Foyer site at The Lee on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.