Roughly 26,000 youth each year “age out” of the foster care system when they turn 18years old. Many are unprepared to live on their own, especially without any support from a permanent family to help them as they struggle to find their way.
One of the most important provisions of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, signed into law in October 2008, the option for states to extend supports and services to youth and young adults in foster care up to age 21.
Another goal of the Act is to provide educational stability for children in foster care, many of whom move from school to school as their foster placements change. Studies have shown that youth do better academically when they are in stable home and school environments.
Among other provisions, the Act advocates for placing children in foster care with relatives, coordinating health care planning, and improving training opportunities for caseworkers, private agency staff, judges and others whose work impact on the welfare of children in foster care.
The National Foster Care Coalition, in collaboration with several other organizations, has prepared Frequently Asked Questions about this Act and its implementation. We think it’s important to read them and learn more about what can be done to help children who “age out” of foster care to be on their own when they are not prepared to do so. The FAQ can be downloaded at http://www.nationalfostercare.org/pdfs/NFCC-FAQ-olderyouth-2009.pdf