Each year, 20,000 young adults across the country “age out” of foster care. That’s the equivalent of the Palestra arena filled 2.3 times with 18−21-year-olds who are ill equipped to live on their own after years in the foster care system.
Lacking the skills to navigate adulthood, they are more likely to lag educationally, experience arrest, and struggle financially than their non-foster peers. For every young person who ages out, taxpayers and communities can expect to pay about $300,000 in social costs over their lifetime.
Johanna Greeson, Associate Professor at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) and long-time champion of foster youth, is changing these odds with a new approach that replaces independent living with an interdependent model. Caring Adults ‘R’ Everywhere (C.A.R.E.) is intended to heal the aging-out crisis by helping young adults cultivate resilience through relationships with supportive adults. The program was recently piloted by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services. Greeson and her peers would call this a theory-driven, research-informed intervention. For the foster kids of Philadelphia, it simply works.
Watch the video below to learn more about this initiative.
“I am striving to build a research agenda that is resiliency-focused and based in the strengths and virtues that enable foster youth to not only survive, but thrive,” says Greeson. “Mentorship isn’t a cure-all, but it can make a profound difference in the life of a child who will suddenly feel less alone.”
From child welfare reform to resources for seniors, SP2 translates scholarly insights into real-world impact. Support for research and programs through The Power of Penn Social Policy & Practice Campaign advances projects like C.A.R.E. and fuels the School’s mission to provide measurable, meaningful ways to improve our society and further social justice for all.