35 Foster Youth Homelessness Statistics You Should Know
Here are some key foster youth homelessness statistics that reflects upon youth in foster care who experience homelessness.
National Foster Youth Homelessness Statistics
1. In the first four years after aging out of foster care, approximately 20% of former foster youth will experience homelessness.
2. Nationally, approximately 29% of youth without housing between the ages of 13 and 25 have spent time in foster care.
3. An estimated 50% of foster youth in the United States who reunified with prior caregivers (often family) and ultimately became homeless, said they were subjected to repeat abuse and/or neglect post-reunification.
4. 61% of former foster youth experiencing homelessness are likely to be incarcerated compared to 46% of homeless youth who had never been in the child welfare system.
5. Comparatively, 48% of former foster youth who are homeless are likely to be in school and/or employed vs 55% of homeless youth not placed in foster care.
6. 28% of homeless foster youth identify as LGBTQ+ compared to 22% of non-foster youth.
7. Approximately, 47% of all current foster youth without housing experienced homelessness with their biological family compared to 9% of non-foster youth.
California Foster Youth Homelessness Statistics
8. In California, close to 31% of transition-age foster youth experience homelessness.
9. The average time former California foster youth were without homes between 2012 and 2017 was 117 days.
10. Young men in California who were in foster care are 82% more likely to become homeless.
11. Neglected California youth are almost two times more likely to be without housing compared to their peers.
12. LGBTQ+ youth in California who were in the child welfare system have a 1.74x likelihood of being without housing compared to their heterosexual peers.
13. Foster youth in congregate care (i.e., group homes) prior to turning 18 are 1.95 times more likely to experience homelessness.
14. Former foster youth are over 4x more likely to be experiencing homelessness in 2021 as compared to current foster youth.
15. Among current and former foster youth who are themselves parents, 15% are homeless or couch surfing.
16. Current and former foster youth with children are over 28% more likely than their peers without kids to have experienced homelessness and around 58% more likely to have experienced housing instability in the past year.
17. Black youth are over 3x more likely than non-Black youth to be currently experiencing homelessness, and they are 75% more likely than non-Black youth to have experienced homelessness in the past 12 months.
18. 22% of foster youth in the state had experienced homelessness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 68% said the pandemic impacted their housing situation.
Bay Area and Sacramento Area Foster Care Homelessness Statistics
19. In the Bay Area, roughly 75% of unhoused youth were previously in foster care and/or the juvenile justice system.
20. In Alameda County, approximately 14% of individuals experiencing homelessness have some history within the foster care system.
21. Nearly 18% of young adults under the age of 25 in Alameda County who are without housing because they chose or were forced to leave foster care.
22. Among previously sheltered transition-age youth and unaccompanied children in Alameda County, over one in four (29%) said that aging out of foster care was the primary reason for their homelessness.
23. 9% of families with children experiencing homelessness in Alameda County aged out of foster care.
24. In San Francisco, at least 28% of unhoused people under the age of 25 are former foster youth.
25. 15% of all individuals 25+ years old without housing San Francisco were foster youth.
26. Of the San Francisco youth who are homeless, 17% were recently in foster care.
27. Close to 25% of all people experiencing homelessness in Sacramento County were in foster care at some point before their 18th birthday.
28. Among all of Sacramento County’s unhoused population, 34% had been in foster care.
29. In Sacramento County, 57% of people experiencing homelessness and are former foster youth are over 35 years old.
30. In Solano and Sonoma Counties, 14% of all people experiencing homelessness are former foster youth.
What Helps Former Foster Youth Avoid or Reduce Homelessness?
31. A support system is a critical resource that may help foster youth avoid or reduce homelessness. Former foster youth in California who said they have “enough” people to turn to are 44% less likely to later experience homelessness.
32. Extended foster care: AB12, also known as extended foster care, allows foster youth to receive resources until their 21st birthday. The percentage of young adults who take advantage of AB12 resources who experience homelessness is 20% compared to 45% of former foster youth who left the child welfare system on their 18th birthday.
33. When a youth in foster care is reunified with a biological family member or adopted, it is considered a positive discharge. Having a stable, loving and long-term environment reduces that chance of homelessness for youth in foster care. AFS averages an 84% positive discharge rate with its foster care clients.
34. The AFS Lifelong Connections Project teaches Transition Age Youth (TAY) the skills necessary to identify, cultivate, and sustain lifelong relationships that are essential in developing a healthy and stable life. On average, 90% of AFS transition-age youth who participate in the Lifelong Connections Project have stable housing and employment.
35. Independent Living Skills Programs teach young adults between 16-21 years-old the necessary skills to make the difficult transition to adulthood and increase their chance of securing stable housing. Support with life skills, education, employment, housing and transportation are cornerstones to ILSP. At AFS, 91% of eligible youth participate in our ILSP.
36. Transitional Housing Programs provide housing and comprehensive support services to eligible18-21-year-olds participating in extended foster care.
- Dworsky, A., Gitlow, E., Horwitz, B., and Samuels, G. M. (2019). Missed opportunities: Pathways from foster care to youth homelessness in America. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
- Memo from CalYOUTH: Predictors of Homelessness at Age 21, May 2020
- Hanging on by a Thread: The Cumulative Impact of the Pandemic on Youth Who Have Been in Foster Care or Homeless, John Burton Advocates for Youth, May 2021
- Building a Safety Net for the Safety Net: Legal Aid in Partnership with Youth – Insights from Bay Area Legal Aid Youth Homelessness Project
- Alameda County Homeless Count and Survey Comprehensive Report 2019
- San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey Comprehensive Report 2019
- Homelessness in Sacramento County: Results from the 2019 Point-in-Time Count – report prepared by California State University, Sacramento for Sacramento Steps Forward
- Solano County Homeless Census and Survey 2019 Executive Summary
- Sonoma County Homeless Census and Survey 2020 Executive Summary
- Alternative Family Services Impact Report Fiscal Year 2019-2020