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“Aging Out” of Foster Care

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1 “Aging Out” of Foster Care
Erin Dudley, Stacey Griffin & Danielle Panciocco

2 What is aging out? When an adolescent is in the care of the state (meaning they have not found an adoptive family), when they turn 18, they are formally discharged from state care and are responsible for themselves Often times this means leaving there foster or group home, and living on their own. To understand the foster care system we must first discuss the history…

3 History of Foster Care Slavery/Indentured-children used as laborers
Almshouses Orphan trains Orphanages Children’s Aid Society – boarding homes Eventual development of foster homes Foster parent assessments for suitability did not begin until 1930’s (Crosson-Tower, 2001)

4 History THEN: the goal was to remove “good” kids from “bad” parents (Crosson-Tower, 2009) NOW: emphasis on permanency and family maintenance (Casey Family Services, 2005) Foster homes are meant to be temporary Aid birth family in stress management and correction of safety issues If not possible – child remains in foster care, until adoption or turn the age of 18 (age out)

5 Statistics Foster Care Aging out Connections
Approximately 500,000 youth are in foster care every year (Jansson, 2009) Aging out Nearly 30,000 youth age out of foster care each year on their 18th birthday, the age of emancipation (Partners for Our Children, 2010) Connections All too frequently, youths turn 18 and are left to fend for themselves without being adopted or having any permanent life long connections (Scannapieco, Connell-Carrick, & Painter, 2007)

6 Outcomes Adolescents are not properly prepared to be on their own and as a result face lifelong challenges including: Unable to complete high school or pursue higher education Unemployment or underemployment Financial hardships including not having a bank account Unable to maintain steady housing Approximately 30% of homeless Americans were in foster care at one point in their life (Jansson, 2009) Physical and/or mental health illnesses from limited or no health care Being arrested and/or incarcerated Teen pregnancy Partners for Our Children (2010); The Children’s Aid Society (n.d)

7 Why are aged out foster youth at such high risk you ask…
Yikes!!! Why are aged out foster youth at such high risk you ask…

8 Adolescent Development
Hormonal changes and brain development Underdeveloped frontal lobe Impacts decision-making Puberty Estrogen/Testosterone Increased moodiness, risk taking, etc. Importance of peers Autonomy Seeking Egocentrism (Broderick and Blewitt, 2008)

9 Developmental Stage: Risky Behavior
Peak of risk taking is approximate age 17 Why? Modeling deviant behavior of peers Sensation seeking Adaptive? A way to cope with stress and survive current situation Brain development Egocentrism Sense of invulnerability (Broderick and Blewitt, 2008)

10 How might this impact adolescents aging out of foster care?
Greater risk-taking History of abuse/neglect/trauma Attachment Peers as a support system Lack of support Resources Connections Family Education Each of these impacts can be a contributing factor to the negative outcomes listed.

11 Government Intervention

12 Title IV-E replaced by John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Act
Federal Legislation Federal government recognizes need in population (Gardner, 2008) place aged out foster youth as high priority on Section 8 housing lists and provide 18 months of housing vouchers (Dworsky & Courtney, 2009) Family Unification Program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development 1980 1990 2000 Section 477 of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act – Independent Living Program allows for optional extension of services until age 21 to allow for a stronger focus on independent living skills stipulations prohibited use of funding for payment of room and board, which essentially made the funds unusable (Dworsky & Courtney, 2009) Title IV-E replaced by John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Act Grants to teach youth construction skills while completing high school education Enhance skills for after care In first 7 years, provided $300 million in grants nationwide (Gardner, 2008) Youthbuild

13 John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Act
focus on development, permanency, self-sufficiency, education and training programs, housing, and health and counseling services (Keller et al, 2007) $140 million of federal funding available to states, States much contribute a 20% match of funds (Gardner, 2008) allowed for 30% of funding to be used for room and board expenses (Dworsky & Courtney, 2009) 2001 – amendment adding Education and Training Vouchers maximum of $5,000 per year towards higher education or training expenses (Wells & Zunz, 2009)

14 New Hampshire Senate Bill 168
2007 tuition waivers for postsecondary education in NH less than 23 years old in foster care for immediate 6 months before or on 18th birthday adopted from state custody following termination of parental rights youth involved with DJJS in out-of-home placement on 17th birthday maximum of 20 waivers granted annually (“An Act Establishing”, 2007)

15 New Hampshire House Bill 502
2008 Extended Medicaid coverage through age 20 for former foster youth who are enrolled in postsecondary education Establish a committee to study the state of Washington which extends care and services beyond age 18 (“An Act Extending”, 2008)

16 New Hampshire House Bill 702
2008 Voluntary extension of jurisdiction for youth still in high school at age 18 Until complete high school or turn 21 Client may revoke consent of extension (“An Act Relative”, 2008)

17 DCYF Adolescent Program
Goal: prepare youth with resources and connections in the community to become self-sufficient and successful adults Includes: NH Trails Curriculum (NH Teen Responsibility and Independent Living Skills) Skill Trainings Tuition Waivers Youth Advisory Board Annual Conference Financial Assistance (“Adolescent program”, n.d.)

18 Other programs DCYF is not the only agency working with this population There is a network of agencies dedicated to working with foster and adopted youth Other agencies include: Child and Family Services Job Corps Nashua Children’s Home Casey Family Services Riverbend


20 Interview: Lea Riley Lea Riley from the Nashua Children’s Home supervises two programs for homeless youth Independent Living Program Transitional Living Program

21 Interview: Lea Riley Nashua Children’s Home (NCH)
Independent Living Starts at 16 years old until age 18 (age out) Get job, start saving at least 75% of earnings Helps obtain Social Security card, birth certificate, driver’s license Transitional Living (TL) Apartment-style program Apartments owned by NCH Assists in applying for college, getting and maintaining a job, how to pay bills, etc. Not all children in TL are in foster care system

22 Lea Riley: How does NCH promote resiliency among aging-out kids?
Weekly therapy sessions, family sessions (when reunification applies) Classes for independent living Outside representatives to explain options Examples: Military representatives Job core Social Security (Medicaid for health care) Tutors to promote success in school Volunteerism for kids (networking, exploring strengths)

23 Lea Riley: How do you work with the State to promote success in aged-out kids?
Ensure kids have health insurance through Medicaid before leaving Assist in obtaining welfare if needed DCYF Aftercare Program Financial assistance when needed until 23 Educate about state-funded resources Example: soup kitchens

24 Lea Riley: What is your outlook for aging-out kids in NH by 2020?
Hopeful, but poor Living costs are becoming unreasonable Recession & NH “budget crunch” Courts may send children home too soon to cut costs May result in: Higher crime rate Higher prostitution Higher rate of homelessness Lower education and success rate of children

25 Lea Riley: What challenges need to be addressed for the future to look more positive?
Affordable housing More transitional living programs Specialized treatment for each child Education for kids and staff members Promotion of volunteerism for kids (networking, identify passions and strengths) Mentors

26 What can we do? Keep siblings together to improve and maintain trust with other people Provide Extended Foster Care until age 21. Better trained Social Workers Additional programs to assist in Transition

27 NASW Policy Option Recommendations
ALL children eligible for foster care support Rewards states for reducing number of children in foster care Provide financial assistance to federal guardians to assist children over the age of 18 Federal foster care financing system that is flexible and sufficient

28 Looking to the future: Our group ideas of a plan for 2020
Mandatory extension of state jurisdiction of foster youth until age 21 or completion of postsecondary education Prior to 18, independent living skills are not always applicable and are therefore difficult to learn and master. Those youth who are still in high school at 18 are often forced to drop out for reasons including not having an address and therefore not being able to remain enrolled and also needing to work to support oneself. Extended jurisdiction would allow more time for these youth to master the skills that they need and to further their education to make themselves more competitive members of the work force and more likely to earn enough money to reduce housing and food insecurities and to have health care.

29 Looking to the future: Our group ideas of a plan for 2020
Additional funding for nonprofit agencies working with those youth who have aged out. Assist with learning independent living skills when the youth is developmentally prepared for the skills and the skills are applicable Help youth connect with resources in the community Connect with mentors in the community Provide housing while continue education with hope of same result of extending jurisdiction


31 References Adolescent program. (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2010 from An Act Relative to Continued Jurisdiction in Child Protection Cases. HB 702. (2008). An Act Establishing Tuition Waivers for Foster Children. SB 168. (2007). An Act Extending Medicaid Coverage Through Age 20 to Individuals Who Were Foster Children and are Attending Postsecondary School. HB 502. (2008). Avery, R.J. (2010). An examination of theory and promising practice for achieving permanency for teens before they age out of foster care. Children & Youth Services Review, 32(3), doi: /j.childyouth Broderick, P. &Blewitt, P. (2006). The life span: Human development for helping professionals (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/ Merrill Prentice Hall. Casey Family Services. (2005). An integrated approach to youth permanency and preparation for adulthood. Retrieved from 20permanency/Document%20 Library/casey_permanency_0505.pdf Children’s Alliance of New Hampshire. (2010). Homeless teens and young adults in New Hampshire. Retrieved from publications/PB_Wauchope-Homelessyouth.pdf Crosson-Tower, C. (2001). Exploring child welfare: A practice perspective (2nd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Dworsky, A. & Courtney, M. (2009). Homelessness and the transition from foster care to adulthood. Child Welfare. 88 (4) Gardner, D. (2008). Youth aging out of foster care: Identifying strategies and best practices. National Association of Counties, 1-10. Hill, K. (2009). Individuals with Disabilities Act of 2004 and the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Act of 1999: What are the policy implications for youth with disabilities transitioning from foster care? Child Welfare. 88 (2)

32 References Jansson, B. (2009). The reluctant welfare state: Engaging history to advance social work practice in contemporary society (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. Keller, T.E., Cusick, G.R., & Courtney, M.E. (2007). Approaching the transition to adulthood: Distinctive profiles of adolescents aging out of the Child Welfare System. Social Service Review, 81(3), Partners for Our Children (2010). Major study shows young people who are out of foster care continue to face joblessness, homelessness, and low educational achievement into their twenties. Retrieved from pdf Pew Chartable Trusts (2007). Time for Reform: Aging Out and On Their Own. Retrieved from Riley, L. (personal communication, July 1, 2010) Scannapieco, M., Connell-Carrick, K., & Painter, K. (2007). In their own words: Challenges facing youth aging out of foster care. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 24(5), doi: /s x The Children’s Aid Society. (n.d.) Aging out of foster care: Youth aging out of foster care face poverty, homelessness, and the criminal justice system. Retrieved from files/FosterCare.pdf Wells, M. and Zunz, S. (2009). Chafee educational and training voucher programs: System coordination in rural New England. Child & Adolescent Social Work, 26(2), Doi: /s

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