Tuesday, August 20, 2013
My patient aged out of foster care, uh oh
Sam is cognitively limited but he does not qualify for support as "developmentally disabled" as his IQ is 71 (not below 70 which is one criteria), he can tell time, get himself dressed and can read at a second or third grade level. He entered treatment to help him with the transition out of foster care to the adult world and to help him with his anger toward his family. I was given 4 weeks before he aged out and the foster care system would no longer pay for his sessions.
What Sam doesn't have is the capacity to live independently. He has no family to which he can turn. His mother is lower functioning than he is and doesn't want him around.
He will not be able to work a full time job without supervision. In a job market such as ours, not too many people will hire a young man who thinks too slowly, can't follow two step instructions and has poor social skills.
He is scared. He told me last week that he knows there are things he will never be able to do on his own. This makes him angry and hurts his self esteem. His foster system case manager set him up in subsidized housing for when he aged out but he will not be able to stay if he can't contribute $400 a month. Sam has zero dollars right now. His case manager told him to keep looking for job and to go to welfare. He also told him to go to Social Security to find out if he is eligible for a monthly disability check.
Sam came back to session after having gone to welfare with paperwork in his hands. On the paperwork it said that he has to complete a "28 day protocol" at the state's job helping program before he can get any money. He asked me what the 28 day protocol is. I had no idea. He couldn't read the paperwork much less understand it. This is the kind of stuff that case managers would have helped him with prior to his 21st birthday.
Our sessions will not be paid for anymore by the foster care system as July is over. The clinic has allowed him to stay on for a few extra weeks and is working on hooking him up with another program that will foot the bills for continued therapy with me.
Too many young adults who age out of foster care end up homeless or incarcerated within their first year of independence. Sam's story is just one of the many reasons why.