Fewer than 20% of foster youth have access to computers where they live compared to 90% of all U.S. teens. When provided with computers, grades, social connections and self-esteem all improve, while truancy, depression and suicidality decrease. A computer provides access to the world and teaches youth the skills they need to thrive. The 1-Laptop For Foster Youth Program provides computer to youth in foster care to help them become successful, independent adults.
Fewer than 5% of rural foster youth, and 20% of urban foster youth have access to a computer where they live. This places U.S. foster youth ahead of only one country in the world, Uganda. The outcomes for our foster youth are tragic: 46% will drop out of high school or fail to get GED by 19, 51% will be homeless, 50% will be unemployed, 70% will be on government assistance, and less than 3% will earn their bachelor's degree. A computer can change all of this.
Our foster youth are failing because we don't provide them with the resources and experiences they need to thrive. Access to a computer increases academic performance, social connections and life satisfaction. Grades improve, relationships improve, self-esteem improves, outcomes improve. One very specific, tangible investment in our youth changes their lives forever.
The cost to society of not investing in a foster youth is estimated to be $1 million in social services and lost income, not to mention the wasted potential of a life. A small investment of $225 provides a computer and a window to opportunity. The 1-Laptop Program will provide a computer to each of the 10,000 foster youth in California ages 16-21, and provide a model for other states and the Federal Government to replicate.