With grants from The California Wellness
Foundation and others, CAI
is working to improve outcomes for youth aging out of foster care by increasing the quality and quantity of programs and services available to that vulnerable population. Each year, 30,000 of the nation’s foster children “age out” of the foster care system and are expected to become independent, self-sufficient and contributing members of society with little or no assistance from others. These are young adults who experienced significant psychological trauma during their formative years — including being neglected and/or abused; being separated from their homes, friends, families and most things familiar to them; and enduring multiple placement in homes and institutions, interrupting (among other things) their educational progress. Particularly those foster youth who live their teen years in group homes do not benefit from normal growing-up experiences that most of us took for granted, but which prepared us for adult life, such as seeing an adult pay bills each month, do the laundry, buy groceries, pay taxes, arrange for car insurance, or undertake the dozens of other mundane tasks required to be a responsible, self-sufficient adult.
The foster care system itself creates huge barriers to the normalcy of a child’s growing-up experience, causing foster youth to miss out on many rites of passage experienced by their peers. Many foster youth lack control over even minor aspects of their lives, giving them little opportunity to make decisions about their lives. Unlike their peers who were not raised by the foster care system, most foster youth alumni do not have a strong familial support system to offer guidance and to which they can go for help if they experience the difficulties that typically face young adults. We essentially abandon our foster youth in the wilderness when they age out, with no resources, no map or compass, and no one to serve as guide.
The consequences of our failure to adequately prepare foster youth for life on their own are woven throughout every aspect of their lives after foster care. They are evident in the bleak outcomes and challenges these youth face in the areas of educational attainment, employment, housing, homelessness, physical and mental health issues, credit issues, and identity theft.
Major law and policy changes are needed at the federal and state levels in order to give these youth -- our youth -- a meaningful opportunity to become financially independent and self-sufficient after leaving foster care. CAI's efforts in this area include impact litigation, legislative and regulatory advocacy, research and publication of special reports, and more.
CAI's work in this area includes the following:
- NEW CAI testifies in support of Maryland's HB 575 to protect assets of foster youth (Feb. 18, 2015)
- Are They Being Served—Yet? CAI Releases New Report on MHSA and Transition Age Foster Youth (Dec. 20, 2013)
- CAI Releases Report Reviewing First 18 Months of AB 12 Implementation (Dec, 9, 2013)
- CAI's Fleecing of Foster Youth report and follow-up participation on FTC/DOJ forum on child identity theft lead to helpful new resource from the Annie E. Casey Foundation: Youth and Credit: Protecting the Credit of Youth in Foster Care (June 11, 2013)
- CAI Joins Amicus Brief Challenging Agency's Misuse of Foster Youth's Survivor Benefits (Mar. 4, 2013)
- CAI Comments on DHHS Proposed Regulations for Ensuring Medicaid to Age 26 for Eligible Former Foster Youth (Feb. 20, 2013)
- CAI-sponsored AB 989 (Mitchell) — Prop. 63 Mental Health Services for Transition Age Foster Youth is enacted (Ch. 640, Statutes of 2011)
- CAI Participates in FTC / DOJ Forum on Child Identity Theft (July 21, 2011)
- The Fleecing of Foster Children — How We Confiscate Their Assets and Undermine Their Financial Security (Mar. 16, 2011)
- Information for Congregations or Community Organizations Interested in Starting a Transition Life Coach Program for Local Foster Youth
- CAI Report Analyzes Counties' Use of Prop. 63 Funds for Transition Age Foster Youth (Jan.
- Links to Key Reports Addressing Transition Age Foster Youth Issues
- Transition Life Coach (TLC) Plan
- Model TLC Trust Agreement
- Model TLC Petition and Order
- CAI Comments on San Diego County's Mental Health Services Act Innovation Component Plan
- Master Report: Expanding
Transitional Services for Emancipated Foster Youth:
An Investment in California's Tomorrow (Jan. 2007)
Significant Reports Addressing Transition Age Foster Youth Issues
Human Rights Watch:
Children's Advocacy Institute:
Chapin Hall, University of Chicago:
Casey Family Programs:
California Coalition for Youth and the John Burton Foundation: