National statistics indicate about 20,000 youth leave the foster care system each  year when they reach age 18.  Young people who have left foster care say the  struggle for day-to-day survival after leaving care makes planning for a good future  difficult. To help those making this transition, support and preparation must begin  when they enter out-of-home care. The Older Youth Program allows the division  to offer services and financial help to young adults trying to develop their skills,  education and independence.

The Older Youth Program incorporates the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, a  federal legislation, which introduced the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence  Program in each state. Help is offered through three programs:

  • The John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (services are  being provided by a contractor or Community Partnership)
  • Transitional living services (housing options that are also being provided  through contracted agencies)
  • Independent living arrangements

The Older Youth Program is not a substitute for a permanency goal, and Independent living is not an alternative to adoption for youth. Those who are enrolled in the Older Youth Program will continue efforts to locate and achieve placement in adoptive families. Each person's case goal will be different, depending on the goals and the needs of the person.

Who is eligible?

You may be eligible for help through the Older Youth Program if you are:

  • Between the age of 14-21
  • Currently in the legal custody of the Children's Division and in out-of-home placement
  • No longer in legal custody of the Children's Division on or after the age of 17.5 but are not yet 21
  • Age 16 or older and left foster care for adoption or guardianship after the age

What services are available?

The goal of the Older Youth Program is to help those who may remain in foster care until age 18 make the transition to self-sufficiency through the services offered.  These services may include, but are not limited to:

  • Help getting a high school diploma
  • Help finding and applying for colleges
  • Career exploration and training
  • Finding and keeping a job
  • Training in daily living skills
  • Help finding a place to live
  • Help with budgeting and financial management skills
  • Substance abuse prevention
  • Preventive health activities (including smoking avoidance, nutrition education, and pregnancy prevention)
  • Emotional support through mentors
  • Crisis intervention funds (to help with rent and utilities, food)
  • Financial, housing, and other appropriate supports and services for young people 18-21 formerly in foster care