RIVERSIDE – A UC Riverside professor’s research on what happens to foster kids after they’re emancipated — and whether a state law allowing them to remain in state care until they’re 21 years old makes a difference — will continue thanks to a $350,000 grant, it was announced today.
Psychology Professor Tuppet Yates has been researching the outcomes of foster children for more than three years and now plans a new phase of documentation focusing on the effects of Assembly Bill 12, legislation that took effect Jan. 1 and permits foster youths to continue receiving state assistance to age 21.
”For youth who never attain a permanent adoptive or kin placement, the risks are especially pronounced,” Yates said. ”Youth who age out or emancipate from foster care at 18 years of age face the challenges of adulthood with few educational, material and socio-emotional resources. Cut from the moorings of state care, these youth are often brought down by the currents of adulthood.”
According to the professor, half of foster children surveyed say they have spent time in jail or prison and were homeless for some period following their emancipation.
The New York-based William T. Grant Scholars Program, which supports research into how to improve the lives of children and young adults, awarded Yates the five-year $350,000 grant.
Yates and her co-researchers will use the funds to document whether AB 12 improves the lives of 200 foster kids who choose to take advantage of the three-year emancipation extension. The professor will also analyze how social workers interact with the teenagers and whether they effectively communicate the options available to them.
”These kids are incredibly sensitive to nonverbal cues,” Yates said. ”Helping providers understand that it’s not just what they say, but how they say it, may make all the difference.”