The Cost of Aging Out of the Foster Care System

According to the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, 26,000 kids age out of the foster care system each year - and it comes with a big cost. Kids who leave foster care without a permanent family are less likely to graduate from high school or college, more likely to end up homeless and young women are more likely to become pregnant before age 21. This ends up costing society an additional $8 billion for each cohort that leaves foster care. To help address some of these negative outcomes, The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which became effective in 2010, extended eligibility for benefits to foster kids beyond the age of 18 – up to age 21.  Those benefits (Title IV-E) are available to young people if they are:

  • completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential;
  • enrolled in an institution which provides post-secondary or vocational education;
  • participating in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers to, employment;
  • employed for at least 80 hours per month; or
  • incapable of doing any [of the above] due to a medical condition.

As of 2014, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 22 states have enacted legislation that extends benefits to foster children beyond the age of 18.

The Aging Out of Foster Care session at the 2015 CSG National Conference in Nashville will highlight innovative approaches states are taking to protect foster care children and provide hope to those who find themselves rapidly aging out of the foster care system. The session will be held 2:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11.