Foster Care Statistics Show Huge Need for VOICES

The lives of transitioning foster youth are filled with challenges, which can seem insurmountable. Statistics show the difficulties existing in lives of VOICES youth but more importantly, the hope that VOICES can provide for youth who enter our doors and search out the services we provide. Since it's founding, VOICES has worked passionately to support their youth in their determination to not become one of the previous grim statistics:


  • By the age of 19, only 57% of emancipated foster youth have received high school diplomas or GEDs (1)
  • Less than 5% of former foster youth graduate college (2)


  • Employers are less likely to hire a former foster youth who have the similar qualifications than a non-foster youth. (3)
  • Less than 50% of former foster youth are employed 2½ - 4 years after leaving foster care, and only 38% have maintained employment for over one year. (4,5)


  • In California, 65% of youth leaving foster care do so without a place to live. (4)
  • Only 40% of eligible emancipated foster youth receive independent living services. (3)
  • Nearly 40% of transitioning youth will be homeless within eighteen months of discharge. (6)

Health and Wellness:

  • 56% of youth leaving foster care reported using hard drugs. (7)
  • Nearly 50% of foster children suffer from chronic health conditions such as asthma, visual and auditory problems, dental decay, and malnutrition. (8)
  • Former foster youth experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at twice the rate of US war veterans. (9)
  • More than half of children in foster care have moderate to severe mental health problems. (10)
  • Former foster youth were significantly less likely to have attended any sort of religious services. (11)

Relationships and Permanency:

  • Foster youth are more likely than their peers to have marital problems, and are more likely to raise a child outside of marriage. (11)
  • Foster youth tend to be more socially isolated and have a harder time forming long term relationships. (1)
  • Parents with a history of foster care are almost twice as likely as parents with no such history to see their own children placed in foster care or become homeless. (4)


  • In one study, median earnings among employed former foster youth were just 59% their peer's income. (11)
  • Foster youth are several times more likely to rely on public assistance. (3)

Incarceration and institutionalization:

  • Over 70% of all California State Penitentiary inmates have spent time in the foster care system. (12)

VOICES was created to provide services to meet these needs of youth and to create enduring change to reverse these trends. Read about VOICES' unique founding story, here.

Click here for the notes and sources for this statistics.