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Texas foster care system in need of more families to take in older youth

Buckner International says youth that age out of foster care are "more likely to be involved in substance abuse and sex trafficking."

TYLER, Texas — Foster care advocacy organizations are shedding light on the dire need for more families to take in older youth on National Aging out of Foster Care Day.

Wendy Robuck, regional director of Buckner International, says 23,000 youth age out of foster care every year with bout 1,000 of those being in Texas

Many remember celebrating their 18th birthday surrounded by friends and family, but for foster teens that age out of the system, they have no place to go. 

Robuck says it's sad because when she turned 18 she had support to help her navigate from adolescence to adulthood and these kids don't have that.

Without that support system, Robuck says there more likely to be involved in substance abuse and sex trafficking.

Additionally, 20% are instantly homeless when they age out, according to Foster Focus

Robuck says the most common stereotypes of older youth is that they're juvenile delinquents and have behavioral issues, b

"The truth is they do have more trauma because they've been in the system for a while," Robuck said.

Mary Reed, attorney for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., for Texas Foster Youth Justice Project says often times youth leave foster care thinking they'll have a stable housing situation and it turns they end up couch surfing or in shelters.

Reed says there are programs that can help. Extended foster care is any type of foster care that's in willing to accept anyone in the age range of 18-21. 

According to National Foster Youth Institute, less than 3% of those that age out earn a college degree. 

Reed says Texas A&M has an SIL program on most of their system's campuses.

"Those students are in college and nobody has to know that they are in extended in foster care because they are treated like any other youth," Reed said.

Robuck says Texas is in a foster care capacity crisis and needs more families to take in older youth and sibling groups. 

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