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Center for an Urban Future

New York City has never been a particularly easy place for teenagers and young adults to break into the workforce. Even during the boom years of the 2000s, the city's unemployment rate for teens between the ages of 16 and 19 hovered just under 20 percent. By the end of 2010, it had risen to 40 percent. As shocking as these numbers are, however, young people aging out of the city's foster care system appear to be faring even worse. Based on dozens of interviews with child welfare practitioners across the five boroughs, it is estimated that no more than half of the young people who have recently left the foster care system have jobs at any given time. With nearly 1,000 foster youth aging out of the system every year, that means that close to 500 young people each year are failing to connect with the world of work. This report shows that not enough is being done to help foster youth connect to jobs and careers. While there is a lot that is right with the child welfare system today, neither the city agencies that oversee the child welfare system nor the private foster care agencies that provide direct services to foster youth are adequately equipped to help young people who are aging out of the system to succeed as adults. And the greatest shortcomings are with assisting foster youth to prepare for the workforce. This study takes an in-depth look at the challenges foster youth have in getting and keeping jobs as adults and examines what the various players in the city's foster care and workforce development systems are--and aren't--doing to help young people transition from foster care into adulthood. It offers a range of recommendations on what could be done to improve employment and educational outcomes of young people aging out of the system. (Contains 2 tables, 8 charts, and 35 endnotes.) [Additional funding was provided by the Child Welfare Fund.]

Descriptors: Child Welfare, Foster Care, Career Development, Young Adults, Interviews, Employment Level, Unemployment, Job Skills, Employment Qualifications, Equal Opportunities (Jobs), Labor Market, Profiles, Summer Programs, Youth Programs, Urban Areas, At Risk Persons

Center for an Urban Future. 120 Wall Street 20th Floor, New York, NY 10005. Tel: 212-479-3341; Fax: 212-344-6457; Web site:

Autor: Hilliard, Tom


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