Young adults returning to their parents’ home after living on their own is a pretty common occurrence nowadays. This back-and-forth movement has particularly increased in recent years – so much so that it’s spurred a new generational nickname: “The Boomerang Kids.”
Although I would certainly no longer call myself a “kid,” I am not ashamed to identify as one of these numbers. I’ve been out on my own for well over a decade, but, during my college days, I turned to the ol’ parental home during holiday breaks, summer transitions, and for a good few months while hunting for a place to call my own.
And I am certainly not alone. In a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 young adults, the Pew Research Center found that over half of 18- to 24-year-olds currently lived in their family’s home or had moved back in for a period of time over the past few years. A recent Census Bureau report supports this evidence, finding that the number of adult children living with their parents increased by 1.2 million between 2007 and 2010, reaching a total of 15.8 million.
This raises the question: What about young people who don’t have that option? More than 300 youth age out of Nebraska’s foster care system every year when they turn 19 or are discharged from state care at a younger age. What happens when these young people are sent out into the world without a safety net to fall back on?
Let me tell you what happens. More than 50 percent face homelessness. Less than 2 percent finish college. Many others struggle with employment, health care access, and, ultimately, poverty.
This is unacceptable. All young people in Nebraska deserve to start their adult life off on equal ground – particularly those who the state has allowed to grow up in and age out of a system that, by its very nature, is meant to be temporary. Right now, we don’t do a good job of providing a gradual transition out of the “system” and into the “real world.” But Nebraska has the opportunity to change that.
LB 216, introduced by Senator Amanda McGill and prioritized by the Health and Human Services Committee, would create an age-appropriate, voluntary program offering extended services and support to age 21 for young people who age out of foster care. This bill has been well researched and is strongly supported by Nebraska stakeholders, national experts, and, most importantly, young people in foster care.
LB 216 advanced to Select File with a vote of 28-1, but the fight to pass this bill is not over. Take action to support LB 216. Call or write your state senator and tell them this bill gives young people transitioning from foster care a real opportunity to be productive, healthy, and engaged members of our community as adults.
Read Appleseed’s fact sheet on LB 216 to learn more about how these critical services would better meet the needs of young people in a more inclusive and age-appropriate way.