INDIANAPOLIS, Ind – Governor Eric Holcomb has announced that the State of Indiana will extend foster care to age 21 and independent living services for foster youth to age 23. The extension is in accordance with recommendations from the Commission on Improving the Status of Children, as well as the Child Welfare Policy & Practice Group’s June 2018 audit of the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Indiana Connected By 25, a child welfare advocacy organization, praises Governor Holcomb’s commitment to support foster youth while they transition to adulthood.
“Most of us still rely on a mom and dad after we turn 18,” said Indiana Connected By 25 CEO Brent Kent. “The Governor’s move ensures foster youth receive important supports while they work to finish high school, enroll in college or job training, and enter the world without a permanent family.”
Indiana foster youth alumni and Jim Casey Young Fellow Joshua Christian advocated for the extension.
“I’m excited that the state is extending foster care,” said Joshua. “These services promote independence while helping with things like academic tutoring and living assistance. Without it, many foster youth end up homeless.”
In August, Indiana Connected By 25 presented a recommendation to the Indiana Commission for Improving the Status of Children (CISC). The CISC unanimously voted to recommend that the legislature extend foster care services.
A bill drafted by State Senator Blake Doriot (R-Syracuse) for the upcoming legislative session would have extended foster care to the age of 21.
“I applaud the governor for his decision to expand foster care and supportive services beyond the age of 20,” Sen. Doriot said. “This is an important step in helping ensure the well-being of Indiana’s foster children, and I will continue to champion legislation that safeguards our state’s most vulnerable youth.”
For youth who age out of foster care without permanent families:
- More than one in five will become homeless after age 18
- Only 58 percent will graduate high school by age 19 (compared to 87 percent of all 19-year-olds)
- 71 percent of young women are pregnant by 21, facing higher rates of unemployment, criminal conviction, public assistance, and involvement in the child welfare system
- At the age of 24, only half are employed
- Fewer than three percent will earn a college degree by age 25 (compared to 28 percent of all 25-year-olds)
- One in four will be involved in the criminal justice system within two years of leaving the foster care system
Extension of foster care services beyond age 18 provides foster youth with the support they need to become thriving, independent adults. In states where foster youth have the option to receive supportive services after age 18, studies have found increased rates of college attainment and lower rates of early pregnancy.
The option for states to extend foster care to age 21 was made available by the Family First Prevention Services Act, which was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act on February 9, 2018.