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Frequently Asked Questions About Foster Care Youth
- What happens to youth who age out of foster care?
- Is there a program to aid foster youth as they approach the age of maturity?
A. Many youth age out of foster care at 18 years of age. If a youth is scheduled to graduate from high school or complete his or her Individual Education Plan (IEP) by age 20, he or she may remain in paid foster care until their 20th birthday. If a youth is enrolled full time in vocational or technical classes and scheduled to graduate by age 19, he or she may remain in paid foster care until their 19th birthday.
CPS, in coordination with community organizations, provides discharge planning and services for youth aging out of foster care. Some youth move into apartments or residential housing at college, join the military, or reunite with family members. Some youth have a difficult transition and experience periods of homelessness or incarceration. Some youth enter transitional living programs for up to 18 months provided through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act.
The Chafee Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 provided additional funds to states for aftercare room and board assistance to youth ages 18 to 21 who are transitioning from foster care to adulthood. Some youth live with host homes for a transitional period as they gain self-sufficiency skills. Some youth who are substantially incapacitated are referred to Adult Protective Services for the guardianship program. There is a continuing need for collaborative public and private agency, faith-based, and other organizational efforts to help these youth reintegrate into their communities.
A. The Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program seeks to prepare older foster youth for adult life when they leave foster care. The preparation must begin by the youth's 16th birthday (or as soon as possible if the youth enters paid substitute care after turning 16). The PAL Program provides life skills assessment, life skills training, vocational and educational services, supportive services, and financial benefits such as aftercare room and board assistance. Residential providers and other community organizations collaborate with DFPS to assist youth who are preparing for adulthood.