This brief highlights historical federal child welfare policy achievements and urges policymakers to champion new reforms that promote lasting benefits for all young people in and transitioning from foster care.
The Casey Foundation advises federal policymakers to act quickly to extend these pandemic-relief resources and build a comprehensive approach that can better support all young people and their lifelong success. Advancing such an approach will involve:
prioritizing permanent family connections and overall well-being for youth in foster care by requiring agencies to establish adolescent and young adult services divisions;
improving access to housing and other resources for young adults, while continuing to prioritize family connections, by making extended foster care universally available to youth in all states;
adding pathways to success by expanding and improving the Chafee program’s supportive services for young people; and
generating strategies that are tailored to the unique needs of different youth — including young people of color and young parents — to ensure that no one falls behind.
An Opportunity Worth Seizing
The Foundation closes its brief by recognizing Congress and its steadfast commitment to improving the odds for youth and young adults in foster care. It notes that federal policymakers have a tremendous opportunity to enact lasting reforms that can address inequities, accelerate effective solutions and offer child welfare agencies the capacity and guidance needed to improve how young people receive services and achieve permanency, healing and economic security.
Comprehensive change to foster care must prioritize racial equity
Three Moves For Federal Policymakers
A Dedicated Division for Young Adults
Policymakers should require foster care agencies to establish adolescent and young adult services divisions to meet the unique needs of adolescents and improve outcomes in healing, family stability and other areas.
Extending Care to Age 21
Lawmakers should seek to make Title IV-E foster care available through age 21 in all states.
Congress should redesign Chafee services to ensure that state and local agencies have the guidance and resources they need to help young people successfully transition to adulthood.
Statements & Quotations
Policies send a message. The lack of educational supports beyond age 21 tells me what you think of my ability to succeed.
– Makayla James, a young adult with foster care experience
We need housing resources that do not feel tied to poverty.
– Elliott Hinkle, a young adult with foster care experience
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