The Challenge

What would the start of adulthood be like if you were in the foster care system and never adopted?

By the age of 23, foster youth are 5 times more likely to be arrested and 4 times more likely to receive government assistance, with only 27% completing high school and 6% earning a college degree.

Fostered Youth who is now happy young adults who have been helped by Roots and Wings and all of their encouragement.

Hundreds of young people age out of the foster care system each year.

Foster youth are among the most underserved, disconnected, and statistically vulnerable segments of our communities. Hundreds of NJ’s foster youth age out of the state protective care each year. Many of these young men and women are not reunited with their families or adopted into a permanent home.

These youth frequently lack the childhood experiences and opportunities that teach the skills and impart the confidence and self-esteem needed to become independent and self-sufficient adults. Stemming from past trauma, they experience physical and mental health problems at higher rates and commonly lack adequate self-care and life skills and essential supportive and sustaining relationships. The risk of homelessness, food insecurity, early pregnancy, addiction, incarceration, sexual exploitation, violence, and government dependency is much greater for aged-out foster youth than for their peers.

As these young people approach adulthood, they face tremendous obstacles, including the unrealistic expectation that they will be able to succeed on their own without the support of close family relationships, adequate education, financial resources, or safe housing. The outcomes and costs of homelessness, poverty, unemployment, lack of education and incarceration are staggering for the individuals experiencing these conditions and their local communities.

The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative reports that, on average, for every young person who ages out of foster care, taxpayers and communities pay $300,000 in social costs like public assistance, incarceration, and lost wages over that person’s lifetime, amounting to nearly $8 billion in social costs to the United States each year.

However, these vulnerable young people require greater support as they often lack the education, job training, confidence, and life skills needed to lead a healthy, productive, and economically secure adult life.


R&W provides innovative, wraparound programs and services aimed at remediating the deficiencies in education and socialization that result from unstable and often abusive childhoods.

Happy young adults who have been helped by Roots and Wings and all of their guidance

Our graduates are overcoming the odds and doing what so many of us take for granted, living independent lives. While also integrating into their communities instead of lingering on the outskirts as victims of circumstance.