Young people in foster care — especially youth of color — reap significant rewards if they remain in extended foster care into their early 20s, according to a recent Child Trends report, Supporting Older Youth Beyond Age 18.
With funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, Child Trends analyzed three federally mandated national datasets — the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System Foster Care File, the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) Services File and the NYTD Outcomes File — and found that young people who experience extended foster care are more likely to:
- be employed;
- be enrolled in school;
- receive educational aid; and
- achieve housing stability.
Nationally, nearly 30 states have extended foster care under the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which provides federal funds for voluntary extended foster care after age 18. The Fostering Connections Act is designed to connect young people to needed services while giving them more time to prepare for adulthood.
Though extended foster care cannot replace the benefits of a legal permanent family, it is a valuable tool in supporting the success of older youth transitioning out of care.
Other resources on extending foster care: