Foster Care

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

As you drive from Oakland to Downtown via Fifth Avenue, you still see many older buildings, but adding to the landscape now are two newly-constructed apartment buildings offering low-cost housing. One of the Uptown buildings is solely for people who have aged out of the foster care system.

“We have 24 young adults who will be moving into those units, and on the other side of the street we have 23 units that will available for working people with modest incomes,” said Larry Swanson, executive director of Action Housing.

PA Youth Advisory Board / Facebook

Several years before he was a Youth Quality Improvement Specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, Christopher Nobles faced the same challenges experienced by roughly 1000 Pennsylvania youth each year: the prospect of aging out of the state’s foster care system and facing a new life.

According to Nobles, the primary challenge for a young person who has aged out of the foster care system is the lack of a lifelong familial support structure. While the support of a steady home is something most eighteen year olds can take for granted, the sort of security a steady home provides is missing from the lives of children in foster care.

“There’s a great deal of psychological stress,” Nobles says, emphasizing that in foster care “You grow up sort of having to audition -- for everything.”

The number of abused or neglected Pennsylvania children in foster care or similar settings is down about a third over the past year. Officials say the reduction is the result of a concerted effort by the court system, county child welfare officials and the state government.

Figures released this week by the state courts show the number of dependent children placed in temporary care fell from 21,400 in 2006 to 14,100 in March.

Officials say a number of systemic changes are behind the numbers, as more than half the state's counties are now participating in the effort.