A bill was signed into law in September 2010 which gives foster youth the option to remain in foster care and receive services and other supports until they reach age 21. This page details some of the troubles youth who age out of foster care experience when they don't receive adequate supports. This page also describes the Fostering Connections to Success Act and the expectations for child welfare staff.
The landscape of child welfare has changed with the passage of the Fostering Connections to Success Act. No longer is the target population simply minor children and their families. This new law requires that child welfare and probation staff work with young adults ages 18 to 21. In essence, the child welfare system has been redefined and requires a new set of skills. One of these important skills is that of youth engagement.
Statement of the Problem
When someone reaches age 18, this signifies adulthood for most people. In essence, young men and women, by law, can take care of themselves and all aspects of their lives. On the other hand, a significant number of young adults who were previously in foster care and have exited to independence have had bad or negative outcomes. For example:
- They find menial employment options OR none at all.
- They do not attend junior college or four-year universities.
- They end up with less marketable skills than their non-foster care counterparts.
- They do not tend to their health and mental health needs.
- They lose contact with friends and people who supported them in their youth.
- Some become homeless.
- Some become involved with the justice system or prison system.
- Some are lost without direction, motivation, or opportunities, etc.
State administrators, human services staff, political figures, direct service practitioners, community partners, students, and others recognized that 18 years old is too young for most young adults to be totally responsible for caring for their own well-being without the support and without a safety net. If young adults continue to exit foster care without adequate resources and supports, they will surely continue to struggle for self-sufficiency and independence.
One of the first things that counties and organizations can do when planning their Fostering Connections to Success approach is to create a logic model that graphically depicts their resources, activities, and projected outcomes. Two logic models are presented.
- The first Logic Model is one that has been created to show how training impacts the outcomes for After 18 youth.
- The second Logic model (print on legal size paper) is one that has been created to show how the Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB12/212/1712 and AB 1031) impacts the outcomes for After 18 youth.
Logic models may look very different; however, they mostly contain the same or similar elements. Both models depict prospective partners, activities to implement a program, and, finally, short-, medium-, and long-term projected outcomes. When users create logic models, they may be edited to fit organizational needs.
If you need help in constructing a logic model that best fits your needs, some examples are included below:
- Administration for Children and Families, Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
- University of Wisconsin
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation
- Innovation Network
What is Fostering Connections to Success?
The California Fostering Connections to Success Act became public law in 2008. The law aims to promote permanency and improved outcomes for young adults. The law changes policy in six key areas:
- Support for kinship care and family connections
- Support for older youth
- Coordinated health services
- Improved educational stability and opportunities
- Incentives and assistance for adoption, and
- Direct access to federal resources for Indian Tribes
Staff and Agency Expectations and Requirements
The child welfare system is expected to alter its practice in the following ways to support the California Fostering Connections to Success Act and to increase permanency options and stability for young adults aging out of foster care:
#1 - Support for Kin Providers
California Fostering Connections to Success Act provides financial support for relatives who provide foster care for their kin. This includes:
- Guardianship payments for relatives
- The state noticing relatives when their relative child is placed in foster care
- Flexibility in federal guidelines for licensing relatives
- State requirement to provide reasonable efforts in keeping siblings together
- Grants to support family connections
#2 - Support for Youth
California will continue to provide foster care, adoption, or guardianship payments to children after age 18. Requirements include:
- A personal transition plan is constructed and in place, 90 days before a youth exits the foster care system
- Eligibility for Independent Living Program (ILP) services is extended to children adopted or placed in kinship guardianship at the age of 16
- Extension of education and training vouchers to children who exit foster care to kinship guardianship at age 16 or older
#3 - Support for Education
- Staff should ensure that foster youth are enrolled in school, homeschooled, enrolled in an independent study program, or deemed incapable of attending school on a full-time basis due to the medical condition of the youth.
- Staff should ensure that the case plan reflects that youth remain in the same school in which he/she was enrolled at the time of placement.
- If the youth's school is not in his/her best interest, efforts should be made to enroll the youth in a new school as soon as possible. The educational records must be provided to the new school.
- Reasonable travel allowances are made to keep youth in school.
#4 - Support for Health
- Staff should engage the youth to develop a plan for his/her ongoing health care that includes the identification of and response to medical and dental needs.
- The plan should outline:
- a schedule for initial and follow-up health screening,
- how health needs identified through screenings will be treated,
- how medical information will be updated and appropriately shared, and
- how the continuity of health care will be ensured.
After 18 provides a fact sheet for youth that explains the program requirements.