The cost of doing nothing


This week we’re diving deeper into foster care and DC127. Read yesterday’s post by our Director. We’re specifically looking for 46 monthly donors  one for each month kids spend in foster care on average. Will you become a monthly donor today? 

We’ve all heard the stats:

  • 400,000 children in the United States are in the foster care system.
  • 96,000 of these children are available to be adopted.
  • 26,000 kids in foster care “age out” of the system, or are “emancipated,” every year.

And to bring it down to our level:

  • 1,179  children in the District of Columbia are in the foster care system.
  • 1,183 children are in their homes, but under the watch of DC Child and Family Services.
  • 108 children have the goal of adoption.
  • Children in foster care in DC spend an average of 46 months in the system (nearly twice the national average).
  • 77 percent of kids in DC waiting to be adopted are over 11 years old and at risk of aging out of care.

So what happens to these kids once they reach 18 and are legally on their own?  Jim Casey Youth has an infographic that spells out the cost of doing nothing: “On average, for every young person who ages out of foster care, taxpayers and communities pay $300,000 in social costs over that person’s lifetime. Social costs include taxpayer-funded costs such as public assistance and incarceration, as well as costs absorbed by the community, such as wages lost as a result of dropping out of high school.”

Studies show that, of the children who age out of the system without a permanent family,

  • 12-30 percent struggled with homelessness
  • 40-63 percent did not complete high school
  • 32-40 percent were forced to rely on some form of public assistance and 50 percent experienced extreme financial hardship
  • 18-26 percent were incarcerated

With 26,000 youth being emancipated each year, this adds up to nearly $8 billion in costs to the country. And these statistics represent only the financial toll on the country. They don’t tell the story of the challenges these kids experience as they age out of care and enter adulthood without the support of a family to guide them as they make big decisions, reach milestones, and build families of their own.

In light of all these dreary numbers, what can we do? Too often, we become overwhelmed and paralyzed. But we  understand that “doing nothing” is not an acceptable response for the church. We believe the answer is prevention. DC127 wants to keep kids from spending a quarter of their childhood in care and we aim to match adolescents at risk of aging out, with loving families before they are emancipated. We want to recruit families to foster and adopt our city’s young people, to ensure they don’t spend four years bouncing around and that they never have to leave the safety of a loving home.

Will you help us?

We’re looking for 46 people—to represent those 46 months kids spend in foster care—to help us achieve these goals.

We’re already seeing success. As we mentioned in yesterday’s post, just this month, using our church network, we were able to help settle a teen mom and her daughter in a home where they are thriving.

Join in our work by becoming one of 46 new monthly donors. Your investment in DC127 continues our efforts to unite area churches to circle around these children, and connect churches and foster families to the resources they need to make sure each child in the foster system has a place to call home and the support to realize his or her dreams.

The cost of doing nothing is too high. Join the movement and help us take action.


Invest in DC127 with a monthly or one-time donation

Donate to help those effected by the Coronavirus Coronavirus Response Fund