Supporting Older Youth Beyond Age 18: Examining Data and Trends in Extended Foster Care

Supporting Older Youth Beyond Age 18: Examining Data and Trends in Extended Foster Care

Foster youth, especially foster youth of color, have significantly better outcomes if they remain in extended foster care beyond the age of 18, a report from Child Trends finds. Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, the study, Supporting Older Youth Beyond Age 18: Examining Data and Trends in Extended Foster Care (HTML or PDF, 20 pages), analyzed three national foster youth data sets and found that whereas youth who age out of foster care were at increased risk for homelessness, unemployment, lower educational attainment, and early or unintended pregnancy, 19- and 21-year-olds who remained in foster care were more likely to be employed, enrolled in school, and/or achieve housing stability after they age out of foster care. According to the report, older African-American youth in extended foster care also were more likely than their white peers to attain a high school diploma/GED or higher and as likely to be employed. While funds provided under the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act have enabled nearly thirty states to introduce extended foster care programs, the report's authors urge states to use their programs to improve racial/ethnic equity as well as outcomes for all youth in the child welfare system; collect comprehensive high-quality data in order to better capture older youths' needs; and conduct targeted research on barriers to utilization of extended foster care programs as well as alternatives.