Assessing the Impact of Extending Care beyond Age 18 on Homelessness: Emerging Findings from the Midwest Study
One of the major challenges facing young people who age out of foster care each year is finding a safe and affordable place to live. The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 will, among other things, allow states to claim Title IV-E reimbursement for the costs of providing foster care to eligible youth until age 21, rather than age 18, beginning in federal fiscal year 2011. The authors address three major questions: How common is homelessness among young people making the transition from foster care to adulthood? How soon during the transition from foster care to adulthood do young people become homeless? Is there any evidence that allowing young people to remain in care until age 21 reduces homelessness?
They find that far too many foster youth are still becoming homeless during the transition to adulthood. Although allowing young people to remain in care until their 21st birthday does prevent them from becoming homeless prior to age 19 and, to a lesser extent, age 21, it does not appear to reduce their risk of experiencing homelessness by age 23 or 24. They discuss the implications of our findings for both policy and practice.