Equipping young adults with the tools, strategies, and community to take care of their physical and mental health.
Many of the children and adolescents who enter foster care have complicated and severe medical, mental, oral, and psychosocial health issues. Psychological and emotional trauma rooted in early childhood experiences are particularly common and can be linked to serious impacts on later development throughout adolescence and adulthood. And medical and mental health problems faced by youth in foster care are compounded by a lack of adequate access to health services.
For many, COVID-19 has exacerbated these issues. The virus has been particularly dangerous for those with pre-existing medical conditions; it has strained our healthcare system, making it more difficult to access services; and it has created new levels of stress and isolation.
We’ve educated decision makers and the public about how COVID-19 has been particularly devastating for our community, highlighting the resources and support that would be most helpful. And we’ve led conversations with Members of Congress around increasing resources and mental health support access for current and former foster youth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics identifies mental and behavioral health as the “greatest unmet health need for children and teens in foster care.” That’s why NFYI has made the mental health and wellness of our members one of our top programmatic priorities.
NFYI IN ACTION
Because of the current environment, we’re all navigating and the complex histories and stories of our members, it is imperative that we hold space for wellness. We do this by hosting regular workshops on topics like meditation and vision boarding. Our conferences are staffed by mental health professionals who provide attendees with support and coping strategies. And because so much of our work includes former foster youth sharing personal experiences, our trainings focus on how to tell their stories in ways that feel safe.
Foster Youth Facts & Figures:
On average, 4 out of every 5 children and adolescents enter foster care with serious mental health issues.
NFYI Regularly Hosts Congressional Dinners and Briefings on mental health
We update Members of Congress and Capitol Hill staffers on useful data, compelling stories, and real world examples of mental health challenges and trauma-informed care.
Approximately 33% of youth who have been emancipated from foster care have no health insurance.
Children in foster care and emancipated youth experience PTSD at a rate that is double that of war veterans.
Roughly 50% of emancipated foster youth have chronic health conditions
Including visual and auditory impairments, malnutrition, asthma, and dental decay.
Foster Youth tend to experience higher rates of mental health issues, unemployment, homelessness, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and lower educational attainment.
Psychosocial issues rooted in family dysfunction are prevalent among youth in foster care and while the statistics for long-term outcomes for young adults raised in foster care are insufficient, data collected across the nation seems to suggest that they experience higher rates of mental health issues, unemployment, homelessness, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and lower educational attainment.
- Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), young adults who were in foster care at age 18 or older are eligible for free health care in the state they age out until 26. Visit your state’s healthcare marketplace website for details.
- A Home Within matches foster youth with experienced therapists.
- Healthy Foster Care America
- Tips for how current/former foster youth can obtain their healthcare records and secure insurance.
Contact your Congressmember about The Dosha Joi Immediate Coverage for Former Foster Youth Act, which would ensure that former foster youth have Medicaid until the age of 26. The bill is named after Dosha “DJay” Joi, a former foster youth, NFYI member, child welfare advocate, and nursing student who passed away in Milwaukee on May 14 due to COVID-19-related complications.
Has your mental health been impacted by COVID-19 and recent racial justice protests? We want to hear from you about what you’ve experienced and the types of support services that would be helpful. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to submit a video or op-ed.