Study: Illinois Foster Kids Fare Slightly Better as Adults

April 7, 2010

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Illinois' foster children are more likely to succeed than their peers in other Midwestern states. That's according to a joint study released Wednesday by the University of Chicago and the University of Washington.

Researchers interviewed foster children from Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin years after they'd left state care.

The findings are pretty bleak: Foster kids are much more likely to drop out of school, be homeless, get evicted and face financial problems than children from intact families.

But the study shows Illinois foster children fared better in adulthood that other Midwestern foster kids because the state lets them stay in the system until they're 21, instead of kicking them out at 18.

Mark Courtney headed up the study.

COURTNEY: Parents do not routinely kick their kids out at 18 and say, "Good luck. We've taken care of you 'till now, and you're on your own."
But that really is the policy in most states in the country right now, and Illinois is a very notable exception.

Courtney says Illinois foster kids have a lower risk of pregnancy as young adults. And they're also more likely to have some college experience, which means they earn more money, as well.

There are 1,553 young adults in state care in Illinois, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Children and Family Services.  He says they're eligible for monthly stipends, transitional housing and even free tuition for community colleges.