Why DC Needs FAN:
3,000 children from Washington,
DC live in foster care, and approximately one third of them are teenagers. On average, young people spend more than three years in foster
care, and live in three different homes during that time. Given the number of transitions these young people face, it is
not surprising that they experience difficulties in navigating the key developmental tasks of adolescence. A recent study of youth exiting foster care indicated that over half of these young people experienced
economic hardships such as homelessness, not having enough to eat, eviction, or having utilities turned off. Only 40% of youth were employed upon exiting care, and of those who were employed, 90% earned less than
$10,000 per year. These economic hardships were linked to a lifetime of educational
deficits and a lack of social support.
FAN’s goal is to bring a Positive Youth Development perspective to Washington
DC youth in foster care that provides young people with formal and informal opportunities to nurture their interests and talents,
acquire new skills, and gain a sense of personal and group recognition in an atmosphere of hope.
Perhaps of greater concern is the damaging deficit view of adolescents that characterizes most of the systems that
serve these young people. Frequently, the child welfare system treats these young
people as “problems to be managed,” focusing on what is wrong with youth, rather than what is right. Youth who are relatively “problem free” are largely ignored, without consideration for supporting
healthy development and thriving.