And if they do go back to their biological family, it can be just as detrimental. “Those are the people they had to get away from in the first place,” says Eddye. “A lot of times they take advantage of you, and then you're also relying on their financial choices instead of learning how to manage money on your own.”
Also, the lack of a bank account puts kids' savings at risk. “I know one girl who's a single mom, and she kept her money in a shoebox under the bed,” says Eddye. “She was robbed and basically had to start all over.” Eddye says that she knows quite a few people who stash money in shoeboxes and sock drawers because they don't have a bank account.
So why isn't more being done to get kids ready to live on their own?
Two reasons why foster kids aren't taught personal finance skillsThere are a couple of reasons this problem occurs. First, young people in foster care don't get much hands-on experience with money. “Foster parents are encouraged to give kids an allowance,” says Christine. “But the kids tell us that rarely happens.” That means that many of them enter the real world without any experience earning or saving money. Second, foster kids don't get much of a personal finance education. They don't have parents to show them how a checking account works or to teach them about the importance of saving. And it's difficult for kids in foster care to open and maintain a bank account when they're moving from place to place, with different guardians and different rules. And Christine says that “the last thing on a social worker's mind is a kid's personal finance education and opening a savings account.” There are just too many bigger, more pressing issues that social workers have to deal with.