Post by: Francesca McManus
Hi! My name is Francesca McManus and I am a 1L at Regent University Law School. As I am finishing my first semester with the Center for Global Justice I feel honored to have been a part of the team researching for Shared Hope International. Our team was tasked with researching statutes concerning transitional youth, youth between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, within the juvenile justice system.
Another aspect of my research which I have found particularly interesting has been focused on finding government services for transitional youth who have aged out of the foster care system. Once a young adult reaches legal adulthood at eighteen they are generally no longer eligible to remain in a foster home or receive child welfare services. Although some may argue that this makes sense, it is important to remember that many of these young adults do not have a support system outside of the child welfare system.
In my experience as a social worker I have witnessed many individuals age out of the foster care system with little support, and who unfortunately find themselves in unfavorable situations. While researching state statutes this semester I was surprised by the small number of states that have programs to support transitional aged youth aging out of the foster care system. In Washington for example, a foster child is able to opt into the extended foster care program before turning eighteen. Essentially, the state remains the child’s guardian until reaching the age of twenty-one. This provides the young adult with government support and funding including housing, health care, a stipend for living expenses, educational and career support, and a social worker who remains focused on the welfare and safety of the young adult while they find their footing in the world.
I believe it is time for many more states to adopt programs similar to Washington’s extended foster care program to ensure that every child is provided an equal opportunity to succeed.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.