Wednesday, October 13, 2010

California Foster Care Age to 21 Now

Last week in the state of California, landmark legislation was passed that says that children are allowed to stay in foster care until the age of 21 as opposed to the prior age of 18. Aging out is a topic that we’ve addressed on this blog before and is still a problem many children in foster care experience today. California joins just a handful of states that currently have similar legislation of keeping kids in foster care until age 21. The problem with forcing kids out of foster care at age 18 is that many children are unable to provide and take care of themselves. Think back to when you were 18 years old…even though you thought you knew it all and could take on anything, you really couldn’t. There is so much you don’t know and can’t do at that age. There is still much naivety and inexperience of life.

Because these youths are were forced out with no permanent adult guidance and little preparation for the real world, most kids ended up in homeless shelters or may get involved in misconduct and end up in jail. In fact, according to research done by the Urban Institute at the University of Chicago, approximately one in four teens forced out of foster care end up in jail. And with the high school graduation rate being less than 50%, more than half of them are also unemployed and homeless. Coming out of foster care should mean new beginnings and a fresh start for kids, not a bleak outlook with high probability of paucity and hardship. Kids need guidance to help them to adulthood, whether that comes from an adoptive or foster parent. (We obviously prefer an adoptive family.)

This new foster care legislation is optional for the teens. If they decide that they’re ready for the world at age 18, they can leave just as many have done in the past. But now there is the option for those who believe they can benefit from a few more years in foster care and still have the hope of finding a forever family.

For more information:

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