Fostering Adults: 

The State of Care

“The thing about extended foster care is, it’s a deal, but it comes with strings attached.”

About Fostering Adults

Since 2008, nearly every state in America has extended foster care to age 21, an effort to help prevent the staggering levels of homelessness and criminal justice involvement experienced by those who “age out” of the system. In most systems, the extra help for young adults comes with rules about education and employment. 
 
In 2010, California became one of the first states to extend foster care when the Fostering Connections to Success Act became law in 2010. In this series, The Chronicle of Social Change spent months examining the first decade of this new safety net.
 
We found a system that has shown promise in helping young people save money and advance their education as they move toward adulthood. But many foster youths also struggle to navigate the rules required to keep their benefits. 
 
This four-part series was reported and written by Karen de Sá, Sara Tiano and Katarina Sayally, with editing by John Kelly. Christine Ongjoco created the illustrations. The project was mostly reported before the coronavirus pandemic struck, and included months of ongoing communication with current and former foster youth, observations in two confidential courtrooms and interviews with more than 60 child welfare experts. Facts have been updated to better reflect current circumstances. 

California Extended Foster Care to 21. Was It Enough?

“I feel like I started maturing about the age of 20. And obviously at the age of 20, I only had one more year to really use services and the extended benefits.”

Strings Attached: Young Adults Fight to Stay In Foster Care

“I’m tired of people judging me and not understanding me right off the bat.”

Earning Your Keep In Foster Care: The Court Decides

“The closer the hearings are, the less sleep I get. It’s not always feeling like motivation. It’s feeling like additional stress, and also depression.” 

Catching Charges to Get Foster Care’s Help

“When I was going through all this, I was so out of hope I stopped caring. I thought, if I end up living on the street, that’s just what’s meant for me.”