When a child is abused or neglected, the lasting effects of trauma remain long after the child finds safety in foster care. These kids find themselves in a constant state of “fight, flight or freeze,” where even the simplest of tasks or smallest hint of trust is a matter of survival. Add to this the stress of living among strangers, the missed opportunities of being a kid, and the loss of identity, and the entire world becomes a threatening place devoid of love. Despite the sacrificial love of dedicated foster families, and the vast federal and state resources spent on these kids, the scars are so deep that success often fades further away with each birthday.
A lifetime of troubles
With such an uneven playing field, it should come as no surprise that about half of all foster children will end up homeless within two years of “aging out.” And that’s just the beginning. Consider this:
- A third of chronically homeless adults are former foster children
- Half of the entire prison population grew up in foster care
- Young women from foster care are five times more likely to become pregnant compared to their peers.
A costly tragedy
Behind each of these lives is a staggering price tag of $45,000 to $125,000 per year in social services, not accounting for associated healthcare costs, chronic unemployment, and other factors that would drive these numbers far higher. Tragically, it’s too often a story that repeats itself for generations.
Thankfully, there is an answer. With the right love and support, combined with trauma-informed training, children can not only recover from trauma, but can thrive. When we dare to wade into the messiness of their lives, beautiful things happen.