Emily Buss delivered an interesting entry into the Chicago's Best Ideas Series on November 10, 2005. The talk was entitled "Turning Best Ideas into Practice, Chicago’s Policy Initiative on Foster Care." The Law School has several projects known as Policy Initiatives, where the collective work and experience of faculty, students, and alumni are being focused on particular problems with the intent of providing potential solutions. Emily Buss is heading one such project on what happens to children who "age out" of the foster care system. In this talk, Emily discussed not only the specifics of the project, but also the inherent difficulties of doing this kind of empirical work. You can listen to the lecture and discussion here.
As always, instructions for listening and subscribing, should you need them, are available here. The blurb Emily used for the publicity for her talk is below the fold.
"At 18, we are afforded full legal rights. Most of us, however, remain significantly dependent on our parents well into our twenties, and sometimes beyond. This lack of alignment between legal adulthood and the assumption of full adult responsibilities is developmentally ideal, for it allows young adults to experiment with adult independence and responsibility, with a safety net of parental supports to catch us when jobs, relationships, or other adult projects fail.
For children who grow up in foster care, however, the line for legal and actual independence is precisely the same. In most of the country, foster children are discharged from the child welfare system on their 18th birthday, and from that day forward, expected to fend for themselves. As a result, those who have already suffered the twin harms of child abuse and neglect and then familial separation, find themselves jobless, homeless, pregnant, and incarcerated at significantly higher rates than those who grew up in their families.
Emily Buss will speak about the Chicago Policy Initiative she is heading that aims to develop legal reforms that can help address the problems facing foster children who are “aging out” of foster care. In addition to discussing the substantive legal issues that are the Initiative’s focus, she will discuss the particular challenges associated with doing qualitative empirical research in this area."