Aging out is when a child that was placed in the foster care system, never was adopted or reunited with their families. The State decides when the child reaches 18 years old they’re too old to stay in the system, and no longer supports them. In some States funding is available until the age of 21 if you are in school or disabled but it is limited.
They’re left to transition into adulthood with no resources, most kids that age out end up homeless, out of work, with no health insurance, or end up in jail.
Every year about 20,000 kids age out of foster care. Some have been in and out of foster care their whole lives.
Ways to Help
Fostering a Teen
Teenagers are often overlooked mainly based on assumptions and fears. But in reality they are incredible and inspiring. They are still children and also need nurturing. Fostering teens can be an opportunity to make a difference in how successful they become. They can have a chance to learn the basics of life like how to save money and being responsible.
Adopting a teenager will provide the support that they need, having a family and place to stay, while learning to take care of themselves when they reach adulthood. Adopting a teen will give them a chance to finish school, go to college, and start life on the right track. Teenagers need a family and support system as much as younger children do, they need the guidance and protection of family.
Mentoring is an important part of development and growing up. Find a common interest to start, teenagers often connect with people they are familiar with, a mentoring relationship takes time to grow. With foster youth especially trust is built slowly.
Volunteer as an Advocate
As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Guardian ad Litem (GAL) you are placed with a child in care and be a voice in court. CASA and GAL make visits and gather information about the case they are given. Being a volunteer you work with everyone involved in the child’s life including the parents, foster parents, social workers, teachers and others. Everyone works together to decide the best permanent home for the child.