“Aging out” refers to what happens when youth reach a certain age (age 18 in most states) and are no longer eligible for support from the foster care system. Without foster care funding, many youth lose their place to live, health care coverage, connections to supportive adults, and are ill-prepared to support themselves in the adult world.

“I turned 18 a month before I graduated from high school. The day after graduation, I was kicked out of my foster home, where I had been living for two years. I was 18, a high school graduate on my way to college in the fall, and I was homeless.” -- NICOLE, former foster youth.

In 2005, more than 24,000 youth aged out of the foster care system at the age of 18 without connection to a family. This is an alarming statistic, and even though the overall number of children in foster care is decreasing, the number of youth who age-out of the system continues to grow each year. "Imagine being 18 and on your own with little help from family and friends. If you make a mistake the consequences can be drastic" reports a former foster youth and FosterClub member. Foster youth aging out of the system have many obstacles and hurdles to overcome, many details about living as an adult yet to learn. Yet most foster youth have no solid relationships with family or other adults at this critical time in their lives, no caring adult they can count on for guidance and support Statistics demonstrate poor outcomes for youth that have aged out of the foster care system.

  • One in four will be incarcerated within the first two years after they leave the system.
  • Over one-fifth will become homeless at some time after age 18.3
  • Approximately 58 percent had a high school degree at age 19, compared to 87 percent of a national comparison group of non-foster youth.
  • Of youth who aged out of foster care and are over the age of 25, less than 3 percent earned their college degrees, compared with 28 percent of the general population.

Although the statics show gloomy outcomes, as a foster youth in your teens, you do not have to be a statistic. The Independent Living Program is designed to help young people in care to prepare for the transition to adulthood. Programs in each state are a little different, but usually you can receive life skills training, help with moving into your first apartment, money for higher education, and mentoring. Youth should begin Independent Living Programs beginning around age 15.

In 1999, the Chafee Foster Care Independence Act provided guidelines and funding to help improve services to youth who transition out of the foster care system. More funding became available from the federal government through Chafee Education and Training Vouchers, designed to support higher education. In 2008, the Fostering Connections to Success and Increased Adoptions Act requires every youth have a transition plan and allows federal funds to provide services to youth until age 21.

“Having family helps with identity formation, a sense of belonging, and the security of knowing that no matter what, you will always have a place to go. Having family to care about them can be the single most healing experience for many youth in foster care.” -- SARAH GREENBLATT, Casey Family Services

Foster youth report that being connected with a supportive adult really makes a huge difference when aging out. Having a caring and supportive adult to rely on in tough times, to provide help with basic life skills such as job searches, to provide encouragement to succeed, a home for the holidays, etc.

“They were like, ‘You’re 16. You’re going to go off to college in a couple of years, why do you want a family?’ It’s about my entire life, it’s not just about my childhood. I want to know that I’m going to have a place to come home to during Christmas breaks. I want to know that I’m going to have a dad to walk me down the aisle. That I’m going to have grandparents for my children.” -- Mary, Former foster youth, Tennessee


STORIES WRITTEN BY YOUTH ABOUT AGING OUT How Party Boy Cleaned Up His Act Here Linda R write about about John Micheals' experience aging out and provided by Youth Communications, this story explores what can happen. click to read...

STORIES WRITTEN BY YOUNG LEADERS ABOUT AGING OUT

2004 All-Star Sharde Armstrong gives here perspective as a college graduate: "As college students arrive at school and prepare to start the new academic year, I am reminded of the painful, bittersweet occasions that I – a young person who has aged out of foster care and who recently graduated from college – have experienced." read more here...


BOOKS ABOUT AGING OUT 

On their Own: A New Home The following story is taken from the book On Their Own, written by Martha Shirk and Gary Stanglera that tells the story of what happens to kids when they age out of the foster care system. This is part of the story of Casey-Jack, who spent 5 years in the foster care system. Click to read more...


On Their Own: Monica's Story Here's another story from the book On Their Own, written by Martha Shirk and Gary Stanglera that tells the story of what happens to kids when they age out of the foster care system. The following segment is from the story of Monica, in foster care since age 8 because of her mother's abuse and neglect. Click to read more...


QUESTIONS + ANSWERS
Leaving Foster Care Questions and Answers Page The page contains frequently asked questions about leaving foster care Click to read more...

POSITION PAPERS ABOUT AGING OUT 
NFYAC’s Top 10 Recommendations for Ensuring Every Youth Aging Out of Foster Care Has a Place to Call Home provides some great suggestions on ensuring that young aging out find safe, stable, and affordable housing Click to read more...

Read the Articles and post your comments for others to read. Sharing your story can help build a stronger community of peers and supporters.

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My name is Kea Theroux. I am

FMYC's picture

My name is Kea Theroux. I am the new Fostering MS Youth Connections coordinator. This project is designed to build a group of youth leaders to advocate, educate and be a resource regarding having lived in foster care prior to their 18th birthday. As well as helping other youth they will be able to help DHS and other state agencies know how to serve this group better as well as what the true needs are. The age target of the group is 18-24.

I am very excited about this project for many reasons. This successful model has only been done in 3 other states making MS the 4th state to recognize the importance of giving these marginalized youth a voice. On a personal note I am excited because I myself aged out of care at the age of 19. I understand some of the very unique challenges these youth face.

"2008, 29,000 youth or ten percent of the children exiting the system were emancipated from foster care (this is also referred to as --aging out of foster care) at the age of 18 or older without a safe, permanent family. Since 1999, approximately 228,000 youth have --aged out of foster care nationally." http://www.fosteringconnections.org/tools/assets/files/Connections_Aging...
That means for many of these youth their 18th birthday isn't filled with joy, but with trepidation as to what they will do next. Most of you at 18 had a driver's license, maybe a car and had plans to go off to college or move out on your own. In states care you aren't allowed to take divers education or get a license. In the state of MS you also can not rent or own property until you are 21. This is only a few of the things these youth face.

If you know of a youth between the ages of 18-24 who fits these criteria please contact me. I will get them an application and more information. I am also building a statewide database which will help these youth and providers access needed resources. If you are a resource or know of a beneficial resource; please pass it along to me. I look forward to working with you.

Kea Theroux

Fostering MS Youth Connections
PO Box 1452
Gautier, MS 39553-0018
228-383-8589
228-206-1151 (fax)
keatheroux@gmail.com

www.casams.org http://www.fosteryouthaction.org/

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Have you looked into Elevate

FC Steve's picture

Have you looked into Elevate yet. They're a youth board in Iowa you might want to touch base with...
http://www.cfiowa.org/OurPrograms/elevate.aspx

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I aged out of the system

Anonymous's picture

I aged out of the system with no supports (except for college grants, thank goodness for grants). I am happy to say I graduated college and am now wanting to make sure I can help as many young adults as possible. Does anyone have any information for how to get involved with this in Iowa?

Thanks!

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I aged out a couple months

yamiboo's picture

I aged out a couple months ago on my birthday in nov. I was forced out by my own sister. It just showed me that not even my family was dependable. I stayed at different friends house but eventually lived with a former foster sister for about a month. I recently moved back to a former foster home i lived in for 11 yrs. It's a good place, im closer to school and all but. I dont know, it's just not home to me. Just an empty house...

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We are a transitional home

Anonymous's picture

We are a transitional home for foster kids that age out or sign themselves out of the system.

In Triumph
512 846 1749
life@intriumph.org

www.intriumph.org

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I aged out about 2 years ago

peacelove's picture

I aged out about 2 years ago and it was very eye opening, your litteraly cut off. You have no where to go. I litteraly stayed in a dorm for the first year... after that I had to start asking people for help, lucky for me I was in school full time, and stayed on campus during the holidays...you really have to be self dependent and think on your feet...good luck

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I am a graduate student of

FosterProject's picture

I am a graduate student of Columbia and I am researching a project about young adults who are emancipating out of foster care.

If you are currently in care or have transitioned out in the last 10 years, I would greatly appreciate hearing your story. The interview will be anonymous.

Good, bad or indifferent: all perspectives on the system are incredibly helpful and your time is valued.

Please contact me of you are interested in sharing your experience at: researchfoster@gmail.com

I will be happy to answer any of your questions.

Thank you for your attention.

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i am writing a paper on

Anonymous's picture

i am writing a paper on foster care/ adoption. I am wondering if anyone would be willing to talk to me or knows someone who will. I would like someone willing to share with me, if they were drug addicted when born, and is aging out of foster care, or was placed with a family member who wasnt suited take care of you. Please let me know. Thank you

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For the reader who posted a

Anonymous's picture

For the reader who posted a question regarding mentoring an aged-out college student, go to the Orphan Foundation of America website. They have a program called vMentors where you can mentor a youth who is aging out completely online. You can send them packages, emails, etc. After a while, if the relationship continues well, you may be able to meet your mentee. I am currently participating in this program and even though my mentee does not confide in me too much, at least she knows I am available for her if she has any questions. I hope that I will help her in some way.

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i aged out last year but

anddre495's picture

i aged out last year but because i was in are so long i met people in that time that now that im not in care i still have a place to stay and people that i can count on to help me out when i start having problems they help me with food and paying bills just about any thing i need i have some where to turn for a little help here and there

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HI I NEED ANY ONE THAT IS

Terri Larkins's picture

HI I NEED ANY ONE THAT IS TRANSITTION FROM FOSTER CARE AT ANY AGE TO CALL 7074304360 FOR HOUSING SOLUTION JUST SAY 'I NEED A HOUSING SOLUTION IM FACEING HOMLESSNESS IN ASK FOR ME I WILL HELP YOU. THE IS A PLACE CALLED FIRST PLACE FOR YOUTH IN THEY WILL SEE TO IT THAT YOU ARE PLACED IN YOUR OWN APPARMENT IN NOT HOMELESS!!! JUST MAKE THE CALL THEY HAVE EVERYTHING SOME ONE NEEDS TO MAKE IT AND YOU WILL I DID BUT YOU GOT TO WANT IT FOR YOURSELF!

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I am a recent college

Anonymous's picture

I am a recent college graduate who is looking to work with a program or organization who aids kids who are aging out of the system. If anyone knows about any organizations like this on the east coast or in the southeast?

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I have a girl who is with me

linda.lane's picture

I have a girl who is with me until she graduates and she really has no where to go after. She is worried about how she is going to take care of herself. But when we try and guide her to get her help and learn things she pulls away and wants nothing to do with anyone who try's to help. I'm sure she is just truly scared. Any suggestions?
Have a Great day!
Linda

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well i am 17 and i dont age

sammi_2009's picture

well i am 17 and i dont age out untill i am 19 because im in the state of nebraska which sucks because i want to get out off this state coustady crap.....

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i am 18 and i am about to

shameca08's picture

i am 18 and i am about to start beauty school. I have a year and i will be out of foster care and i am so scared. I don't have anywhere to go and i have no one to really talk to or to seek help from. It is really hard to think about all of this but i really don't have anyone.

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it was scary to know i am

sizzling123's picture

it was scary to know i am aging out next year but with my foster family it became easier to think about aging out.

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I am 27 years old. I aged

Anonymous's picture

I am 27 years old. I aged out of foster care, did the whole ILP thing...was even co chairperson for the state advisory board committee for human resources in the state of Oregon at the age of 17. 10 years later, I have lived in 5 diferent states. I've had too many jobs too remember them all. If asked to write down all my addresses and employers from the last 10 years....well, I just wouldn't be able to. Now I'm on a television panel and I want to discuss what is going on today with the youth in Foster care. What are you feeling? What do you want most? What do you want to see changed?

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I am trying to find a way to

Anonymous's picture

I am trying to find a way to mentor an aged-out college student. I would like to be able to send them letters, packages and call them. Does anyone know of a mentoring program like this? I'd prefer someone in NY state so they could come here during school breaks if they want to.

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U should both look into the

Anonymous's picture

U should both look into the THP+ program for housing in which will assist you with finding an apartment (scattered site) and help pay for it. The program will also allow you to save money and set up a savings account. You cant look at it like you are being a part of the system, you have to utilize the services that are offered to you before its too late.

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I age out when I was 18

barb20's picture

I age out when I was 18 after being in foster care for 15 years.I moved around alot.Its hard work being on your own.foster care massed my life up .I had none of the papers i need.The best thing 2 do.Is always have a back up plan.That u think will work.

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I AM 17 AND ABOUT TO

lovediamonds1's picture

I AM 17 AND ABOUT TO GRADUATE IN JUNE (A MONTH AFTER I TURN 18) BUT LUCKILY I HAVE BEEN LOOKING INTO RESOURCES AND FINDING OUT WHAT OPTIONS I HAVE FOR WHEN I MOVE OUT. I HAVE EITHER TO STAY INTO THE SYSTEM WHILE ATTENDING COLLEGE OR MOVE OUT AND TRY MAKING IT OUT ON MY OWN. I AM GOING TO DO THE SECOND. THE TRUTH IS THAT I DO NOT WANT TO RELY ON THE SYSTEM AND THEN NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO AT THE AGE OF 21! I WOULD MUCH RATHER TRY LIVING AT MY OWN EXPENSE(I AM SAVING MONEY AS OF NOW!). THEN IF I SEE MYSELF STRUGGLING THEN I MIGHT GO BACK INTO A FOSTER HOME, SAVE A LOT MORE MONEY, AND THEN KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT AS I "AGE OUT." hELP IS OUT THERE, LOOK FOR IT, AND GOOD LUCK!!!
MiSs BuTtErFlY

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