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Our foster system is a pipeline for children into homelessness. It must be fixed

Our foster system is a pipeline for children into homelessness. It must be fixed
A 17-year-old passes the time at David and Margaret Youth and Family Services, a transitional shelter care facility for teenage girls in La Verne. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: The Times Editorial Board's series touches on the root cause for the increase in homelessness in Los Angeles, dealing a glancing blow to an overlooked issue that's a major factor: the 30,000 children in our county's foster care system.

The facts are incontrovertible. Systemic homelessness is an outcome for many of the 5,000 children on the streets currently, who will join adults who were products of the foster system, lost in the transition from child to adult.

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For youth who have spent years in group or foster homes or who are exiting foster care, the risk is substantial. More than 25% of former foster children become homeless within two to four years of leaving the system. About half of those exiting foster care and juvenile justice systems will be homeless within six months.

CASA [Court Appointed Special Advocates] of Los Angeles volunteers serve youth who are transitioning from foster care into adulthood, with a main priority of helping them find and maintain stable housing. The measures mentioned in your editorials will aid this effort, but until fundamental changes are made to how our community takes care of our foster children, it will continue to operate as a pipeline into homelessness.

Wende Nichols-Julien, Los Angeles

The writer is president and chief executive of the group CASA of Los Angeles.

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