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Failing Our Youth: An Inadequate Foster Care System

This show takes a look at issues within the foster care system in the U.S. from the high rate of teen pregnancy to the alarming use of psychiatric medications in California’s foster care system.


  • Nicole Rocke, former foster youth
  • Kyle Lafferty, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
  • Linda Bryant, Clinical Professor at New York University’s School of Social Work
  • Benita Miller, Deputy Commissioner of Family Permanency Services at the Administration of Children’s Services
  • Lorraine Jacobs, caseworker
  • Yolanda Vasquez, former foster youth
  • Adriane Fugh-Berman, Pharmacology Professor at Georgetown University’s Medical Center
  • Bill Grimm, Attorney at National Center for Youth Law
  • Susan Bullard
  • David Arrendondo, Child psychiatrist
  • Dr. Edmund Levin, at the Lincoln Child Center
  • Nancy Forster, Therapist at the Lincoln Child Center
  • April Rene Sanders, former foster youth and recipient of AB12
  • Kyle Sporleader, Statewide Legislative Coordinator for California Youth Connection (CYC)


  • Host: Jasmin Lopez
  • Contributing Producer: Leticia Miranda, Bay Area News Group
  • Special thanks to the Bay Area News Group.


Show Segments

Teen Pregnancy and Foster Care

Foster girls are 2.5 times more likely to become pregnant by the time they’re 19 than their peers outside of foster care. Some researchers estimate that about half the girls in foster care become pregnant in their teens. At the same time, foster care systems across the country do not have the proper resources and support systems for young women in care to learn about reproductive health and then birth and raise children. This is a story about Nicole Rocke who became pregnant at 16 in her first year living in a Brooklyn foster home.

From Foster Care to College

Typically turning 18 has also meant aging out of the system. So no more reimbursements to subsidize care. Studies show foster youth lacking financial support face higher rates of homelessness and incarceration; and fewer finish high school or go to college. To help ease the transition into adulthood, in 2008 the federal government allowed states to claim reimbursements for the cost of foster care to the age of 21. California’s version helped one young woman gain control of her life. Making Contact’s Laura Flynn has the story


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