the class of 2021
Over the past several weeks, more than 3 million young people in the United States have graduated from high school. How many of those youth were or have been in foster care? The numbers are likely lower than you imagine - not because so few high schoolers are in foster care but because so few students in foster care graduate from high school.
Youth in foster care had a 55.3% graduation rate in 2020, compared to a rate of 87.3% for their peers not in foster care. Similarly, youth in foster care have a higher dropout rate than their peers and are more likely to be held back, suspended or expelled.
For those who graduate, the next steps are not any easier. In fact, the stats for college are much worse. Less than three percent of foster care youth earn a bachelor’s degree.
Educational success should not be an anomaly for youth in foster care. It should be the norm. At the R.J. Leonard Foundation we are committed to changing the statistics. Join us in this mission, as we help youth aging out of the foster care system find and accomplish their educational and career paths. Click here for more information.
one caring adult
In honor of Father’s Day, we wanted to share with you the video below about the impact a foster father had on his foster son. Allow this story to remind you that every child is one caring adult - regardless of that adult’s role, gender, age, etc. - from being a success story.
the $300 question
This week, 25 states announced that they will end the additional $300 unemployment benefit early.
Individuals who have been receiving unemployment benefits through the pandemic have received additional funds as a result of the stimulus bills passed, most recently through the American Rescue Plan. The extra $300 per week allotted by the American Rescue Plan was scheduled to end on September 6. Instead, the first of the 25 states will discontinue the benefit on June 12. Many do so with the belief that this will help end the labor shortage reported most prominently in the hospitality industry.
However, is $300 a week actually keeping potential employees at home? Experts say it’s unlikely, particularly when you take into consideration other factors like health concerns and childcare (hybrid and virtual learning remain commonplace). And there is always the probability that - when faced with more than a year without a job - potential employees looked or are looking to other industries.
But even if $300 is enough to delay an individual’s return to work, isn’t that its own cause for concern? Because yes - $300 is more than you would earn weekly working full-time, earning minimum wage in, say, Pennsylvania. How is that enough? We all know what it costs to live in Bucks and Montgomery Counties.
Perhaps, then, we need to think less about an added unemployment benefit and more about how we can help individuals no matter their job be self-sufficient and financially stable in our economy.
Staying home this past year has been harder for some than others. This is particularly true for youth who identify as LGBTQ+. A recent survey by The Trevor Project found that COVID-19 made living situations more stressful for more than 80% of LGBTQ youth, with only a third of the respondents reporting that they lived in an LGBTQ-affirming home. Unsurprisingly, the survey also indicated that LGBTQ youth struggled with their mental health in 2020 - with 70% of surveyed youth stating that their mental health has been poor always or most of the time through the pandemic.
These survey results serve as a stark reminder that while our society has taken steps toward being more open and inclusive, we still have miles to go, with perhaps the most work to be done inside the homes of young people who identify as LGBTQ+.
Until every person - regardless of age - who identifies as LGBTQ+ feels safe, seen, accepted and loved in their own homes, in their families and in their communities, we as allies cannot truly take pride in our Pride Month celebrations.