Database Offers Resources for Extending Foster Care for Older Youth

Posted July 9, 2018, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Young people who remain in foster care after age 18 show improved outcomes.

A new search­able, state-by-state data­base from the Juve­nile Law Cen­ter cat­a­logs the laws, poli­cies and prac­tices relat­ed to fos­ter care for youth ages 18 and old­er. The Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Oppor­tu­ni­ties Ini­tia­tive — which focus­es on improv­ing out­comes for emerg­ing adults in the fos­ter care sys­tem — sup­port­ed the Nation­al Extend­ed Fos­ter Care Review as part of its ongo­ing com­mit­ment to share what works to help young peo­ple suc­cess­ful­ly tran­si­tion to adulthood.

Top­ics cov­ered include rules on eli­gi­bil­i­ty, reen­try for old­er youth, case man­age­ment ser­vices, court over­sight and sub­si­dies to encour­age fam­i­ly per­ma­nence. The resource is a sig­nif­i­cant step in build­ing a stronger case for expand­ing the length of care across the nation, allow­ing pol­i­cy­mak­ers, advo­cates and state agen­cies to see what’s work­ing in oth­er states and where they stand in com­par­i­son — and, ulti­mate­ly, to use that infor­ma­tion to make improve­ments with­in their own systems.

We know that con­tin­u­ing sup­port through ear­ly adult­hood leads to bet­ter long-term out­comes for youth in fos­ter care across the board — from edu­ca­tion and employ­ment to finan­cial and hous­ing secu­ri­ty,” says Todd Lloyd, a senior pol­i­cy asso­ciate with the Foun­da­tion who sup­ports the Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive. This data­base gives us our first com­pre­hen­sive sur­vey of the nation­al pol­i­cy land­scape, which will enable us to iden­ti­fy what’s work­ing and where we need to do better.”

While 45 states have poli­cies that extend fos­ter care eli­gi­bil­i­ty past age 18, only about half cur­rent­ly take advan­tage of fed­er­al Title IV‑E fund­ing — allo­cat­ed by law since 2008 — to pro­vide ser­vices to young adults. Increas­ing that num­ber to include all states is an impor­tant goal of the Jim Casey Ini­tia­tive. Access to these fed­er­al resources allows states to extend the dura­tion, qual­i­ty and scope of care for young peo­ple as they become young adults, which helps to cre­ate the con­di­tions that lead to sta­bil­i­ty and connection.

Anoth­er ben­e­fit for states is the addi­tion­al over­sight and account­abil­i­ty for out­comes that comes with fed­er­al fund­ing. The end goal is not for kids to just spend anoth­er three years in fos­ter care,” Lloyd says, but to devel­op poli­cies and prac­tices for suc­cess­ful extend­ed care — care that is respon­sive and devel­op­men­tal­ly appro­pri­ate, pro­motes per­ma­nen­cy, opens up new oppor­tu­ni­ties and gives young peo­ple a real shot at becom­ing healthy and secure adults.”

Relat­ed reading:
Suc­cess Beyond 18: A Bet­ter Path for Young Peo­ple Tran­si­tion­ing From Fos­ter Care to Adulthood

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