Providing Foster Care for Young Adults: Early Implementation of California’s Fostering Connections Act
In 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act was unanimously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, and signed into law by President George W. Bush. One of the law’s provisions extended eligibility for Title IV-E assistance until youth in foster care are 21 years old. A key feature of the Fostering Connections Act is that it gives states a financial incentive to extend foster care but does not require them to do so. California became one of the earliest adopters of extended foster care when Assembly Bill 12 (AB 12), California’s Fostering Connections Act, became law in late 2010. Its early adoption is arguably the most important, both because California’s foster care population is the largest of any state by far and because the state has been very ambitious in its approach.
This report examines the planning process for implementing California’s Fostering Connections Act as well as the new law’s early implementation. It is based on data collected from in-depth interviews with key informants who played a critical role in AB 12’s passage, in implementation planning, or in early implementation at the county and state level and from focus groups with young people who stood to benefit directly from the legislation. Although extended foster care is likely to look different in different states, California’s experience offers many lessons from which other states might learn.