Education Means Better Outcomes For Youth In Care


It’s officially “back to school” time.  The rush is on – new school supplies, dorm needs, uniforms and fashionable fall clothing.  Is this what the start of a new school year has been reduced to?  Education is so much more!


Education is a key factor in the attainment of economic stability and self-sufficiency.  Educational failure has long been linked to higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration.  In general, jobs that require high levels of education and skill pay higher wages than jobs that require few skills and little education. Adults who obtain colleges degrees, earn significantly more than those with only a high school diploma.  According to some estimates:

  • High School Diploma earnings = $1.2 million over their lifetime
  • Bachelor’s degree earnings = $2.27 million over their lifetime
  • Master’s degree earnings = $2.67 million over their lifetime
  • Doctoral degree earnings = $3.25 million over their lifetime
  • Professional degrees earnings = $3.65 million over their lifetime


The figures above show that educational progress results in higher earnings.  Higher education also often means lower unemployment rates.  Education completion for youth in the foster care system is extremely critical.  Among youth exiting foster care, poor educational outcomes in particular have been specifically linked to the fact that, within the first 2 to 4 years after emancipation from care, 51% of these young adults are unemployed, 40% are on public assistance, 25% become homeless and 20% are incarcerated.  We can combat these negative outcomes.


The reality is that not every young person will attend college.  I believe that a high school diploma or equivalent is essential, however.  There are other post high school options available such as vocational and trade schools, the military, and service programs such as AmeriCorps. The message that we must send to young people is that education/learning is a lifelong endeavor and additional training after high school is essential to success.



Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox provides youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic enrichment opportunities to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.

Comments 1

  • I agree with what you said Nicki. Education is essential, however, I believe that we need to re-evaluate what we are teaching them or rather, requiring them to learn.

    How much further along would our kids be if we taught financial literacy and economic self-sufficiency at a younger age? Most of your kids don’t need to learn algebra, they need to learn to count, and to make change.

    And reading! I have been constantly appalled at how badly many of our kids read. We need to put phonics back into the system.

    Graduating high school or earning a GED is important because it allows our kids to see that they can accomplish something if they put their minds to it. It gives them a level of confidence that would otherwise be difficult to instill.

    I’ve worked with foster youth for 20 years in several capacities, always stressing independent living skills. My experience, coupled with the current realities of our economy have motivated me to develop a program to empower transition age youth to develop an entrepreneur mindset and build a business based on something they love to do or around their dream for the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Protected by WP Anti Spam
%d bloggers like this: