Colorado’s foster care youth are a small but troubled section of society. Unfortunately, data is scarce for their life outcomes after they exit the system and, in some cases, when they are still inside it. To illustrate the economic impact of even a small sliver of the foster population, the report focuses on those aging out of the system. This is the first study attempting to derive the individual and social costs borne by a cohort of Colorado’s foster youth.

Foster care youth aging out of the foster care system in Colorado face a multitude of challenges, including higher rates of homelessness, limited education, unemployment, involvement in the criminal justice system, early parenthood, mental health issues, a lack of support networks, limited healthcare access, substance abuse risk, and financial instability. You can read our full report on the subject here. Untapped Potential: Economic Costs of Colorado’s Foster Youth

On this episode of Common Sense Digest, Host and Chairman Earl Wright welcomes report author and 2023 Morgridge Child Welfare Fellow John Farnam to discuss his report. The two discuss the shortcomings of the current foster care system, recent incremental victories relative to the issue, and a proposed path forward. The issue has many intertwining contributing factors and long lasting outcomes, and the conversation reflects the complexity of the issue while offering a unique clarity.

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John Farnam has served the Morgridge Family Foundation for 12 years, administering more than $150 million in grants, first as chief of staff and now as managing director. John builds relationships and catalyzes connections with partners at every level, resulting in transformational change across all social sectors in Denver and beyond. His expertise has been sought out as an Aspen Institute Fellow, a member of the American Enterprise Institute Leadership Network, and an advisor to the Governor’s Leadership Committee on COVID Relief. In 2022 he earned an executive certificate through the prestigious Chief of Staff Fellowship at the University of Oxford, and in 2023, he was one of just 60 leaders from 20 countries to complete the inaugural Chief of Staff Association Program through Harvard Business School Executive Education. He now serves as the Morgridge Child Welfare Fellow for the Common Sense Institute.