Every youth in foster care needs and deserves a permanent, loving family. Despite the nation’s stated goal to achieve permanency for children, in 2015 more than 20,000 youth aged out of foster care, meaning they left the child welfare system without a permanent family.

The number of youth who age out of foster care has remained above 20,000 in recent years, even in the wake of increased efforts to achieve permanence for all children in foster care.

For far too many youth, aging out of care results in homelessness, work instability, and a lack of stable, loving relationships with adults. These grim facts are even more heartbreaking because we know these youth could have found a permanent family, if only they had been given the chance.

Younger foster children have a much better chance of finding a permanent family. Once waiting children in foster care are nine or older, they are much less likely to be adopted.

In 2015, about 40 percent of waiting children were nine or older, but 75 percent of those who were adopted were younger than nine.