Kamali’i Foster Family Agency has seen great success achieved as a result of our ILP (Independent Living Program) classes, administration has noticed a growing trend among foster youth both within and outside of the agency. Many of Kamali’i FFA’s youth have been identified as using or abusing substances. The California Healthy Kids Survey identified increased substance use and other problems in foster youth and relative care. Foster youth reported much higher rates of substance use, poor school attendance and grades, more violence-related behaviors, harassment, and depression. Foster youth reported four times more heavy substance use then children whom lived with their parents. Regular alcohol use was twice as high, marijuana use was 10% higher, and other drug use, such as methamphetamine and LSD were ten times higher, than parent home youth. Foster care youth were also identified as participating in risky behaviors more frequently: hate-crime harassment was 1.5 times higher than in parent home youth; depression was 1.5 times likely; violence-related behaviors, such as taking a gun to school or physical fighting, were twice as likely; and school problems such as poor grades or absenteeism were four times more likely than in parent home youth. Risky behaviors such as these are commonly known to be affiliated with substance use and abuse. Additionally, recent studies indicate high rates of lifetime substance use disorders for youth in the foster care system.
As a result of these growing trends and wide-spread negative behaviors and substance abuse dependency, Kamali’i Foster Family Agency has adopted a service model to more effectively address the needs of foster youth. By implementing a substance use prevention program to effectively screen, evaluate, and treat substance use disorders, foster youth in our agency will greatly reduce their risk of conflicts in all essential areas of successful living.