MDRC in the News

18 and On Your Own: A New Way to Ease the Transition From Foster Care



The years between 18 and 21 are a precarious time for anyone. That’s particularly true for the more than 23,000 young adults who age out of the foster care system each year. Some 20 percent of them become homeless the moment they’re turned out of foster care. The chance that an aged-out foster child will earn a college degree is less than 3 percent. And 70 percent of the young women no longer under foster supervision become pregnant by the time they turn 21.

But although 25 states extend foster care services past the age of 18 and most offer some transitional services after that age, younger children remain the priority. “There are just less funding and fewer resources allocated to older youth, though states wish they could do more,” says Jessica Foster, director of strategic partnerships at Youth Villages, a Memphis-based nonprofit that has been working since 1999 to help that vulnerable age group.

Youth Villages aims to fill in the gaps where even the most stable young adults sometimes stumble: getting and keeping housing and jobs, paying bills, going to school. “When they leave state care, do they have someone to drop them off at a job interview? Who do they go to when they lose their housing?” she asks. “Most state agencies struggle with helping those youth in that area”…..

…..There’s evidence of better outcomes in the Youth Villages model. A national study by the social services research organization MDRC found that it improved housing stability and economic well-being for those who had aged out of foster care…..

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