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

During the transition from adolescence to adulthood, youth achieve important developmental milestones, such as learning decision-making and coping skills and becoming more independent. Older youth often rely on family and other supportive adults to help them during this transition by providing guidance as well as a financial and emotional safety net. However, these supports are often unavailable to older youth who are leaving the foster care system. Older youth who age out of foster care are at increased risk for several adverse adult outcomes, including homelessness, high unemployment rates, low educational attainment, and early or unintended pregnancies. Extended foster care is one tool to lessen these risks by providing older youth with the opportunity to receive services and establish permanent connections with supportive adults prior to leaving the foster care system. While most states offer some version of extended foster care, utilization among older youth remains low across the country.

Rosenberg, Rachel. Abbott, Samuel. Child Trends.