Most teenagers can’t wait to turn 18 or 21 to enjoy their freedom. However, for teens in foster care, these ages carry with it a freedom that isn’t always wanted. Every year more than 20,000 youth in foster care age out of the system and lose life-changing services in the process.
When youth age out, they become ineligible for the state funding they have received since entering the foster care system. This funding helps them with everything from housing to medical care. Youth also no longer have caseworkers to talk with when issues arise or foster families to welcome them home after a long day. Many go from having a variety of resources and people supporting them to being alone in the world.
Prior to the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (FCA), only youth under the age of 18 were eligible to be in foster care. The FCA provided states the option to receive federal funding that extends foster children’s benefits to the age of 21. Since 2008, 26 states, including New Jersey and the District of Columbia, have passed the act allowing youth to choose to stay in foster care until their 21st birthday.
Imagine being 18 and on your own, with no family and no support system. That’s the fate that faces many youth aging out of foster care. Many states, including New Jersey, have upped the age to 21. Here’s why:
Transitional youth, youth in transition or youth aging out of foster care are all terms for a group of young adults in the United States who need special attention. After being in the foster care system due to neglect or abuse, these individuals now face another major challenge. Ms. Claudia Rowe of Crosscut.com wrote about a young woman named Lane, “She spent the three years from 18 to 21 trying, and failing, to find a foothold. She worked as a day laborer, dabbled with selling drugs then went back to couch-surfing. At 21, Lane won admittance to community college with a GED and full-ride scholarship, but soon dropped out, overwhelmed by the pressures of living on her own as an adult when she was, by most measures, still just a kid.” What if Lane had the opportunity for three additional years of support? Continue reading
Increased Awareness Of Challenges Faced By Homeless College Students Leads To Action
When many of us think of college, we may envision a Saturday football game, grueling examinations, a sunny day on the green or perhaps graduation. Have you ever thought about attending college and being homeless? Unfortunately, today this problem is more prevalent than you may have ever imagined. Continue reading