8/10 foster children dead, homeless or in jail?

Watched the movie “America” on Sunday night, not a bad movie, dragged a little, but at the end, they asserted that eight out of ten foster children wound up dead, in jail or on the street.

Now, I can be pretty sure that 10/10 foster children will wind up dead, sooner or later, but this really seems like a statistic that was pulled out of someone’s ass.

One would have to assume that foster children are followed by some statistician and monitored for being dead, in jail or on the street. Not buying it.

I get that we could probably do better with our nation’s foster kids, and the statistic doesn’t even seem unbelievable to me, I just don’t think they can or do track such a thing.

Anyone have any idea about this data?

I see a similar but slightly less alarming statistic frequently attributed to William Thorne, a judge from Utah. According to this PDF, he says that an “expert” (not named) told him that two years after aging out of the system, 60 percent of foster kids are homeless or in jail.

I found a document that I can access remotely from my library but which isn’t available freely on the Internet (“Youth leaving care: How do they fare?” by Anne Tweddle, published in New Directions for Youth Development, Spring 2007, Issue 113 pp. 15-31). She cites a University of Wisconsin study finding that 12 to 18 months after leaving the system, 18 percent of former foster kids are incarcerated and 12 percent have been homeless at least once since leaving the system. This is pretty old data though, collected in 1996-97 and published in 1998.