Children can find a permanent home formally, through reunification with parents, legal guardianship or adoption, or informally, through a permanent relationship. Foster youth and their caregivers need comprehensive services such as child care, social support, and ongoing therapeutic assistance to make permanency possible and successful for foster children. Without this support, one in four adoptions ends before it’s finalized, and one in ten children returns to foster care.
In California, 20,000 children enter the foster care system each year, and 2,800 to 3,500 foster youth exit the system at age 18 or older. These youth are often thrust into adulthood without a lifelong connection to a caring adult they can turn to for guidance or support.
The lack of strong, lasting adult relationships puts foster youth at greater risk for lifelong negative outcomes, such as unemployment, homelessness and incarceration. Foster kids need additional support to make a successful transition to adulthood.
A new federal law focuses needed attention on ensuring youth exit foster care with a lifelong connection to a caring adult. The law is also improving data collection regarding children who re-enter foster care after an adoption or guardianship. These are steps in the right direction, but California must do more to promote the well-being of these vulnerable kids.
Pro-Kid® Policy Agenda
California should support policies encouraging permanency and give ongoing services to help families succeed after reunification, adoption or placement in legal guardianship. The state should develop policies for tracking the outcomes of kids adopted or placed with guardians to ensure families are succeeding and children are thriving.
Thanks to recent federal and state momentum, efforts are underway to increase the number of youth who leave foster care with a permanent adult connection and to provide needed supports to help families succeed after adoption, reunification or guardianship. California is in the process of implementing the Resource Family Approval Program, a new unified family-friendly and child-centered process for approving families to care for foster children and reducing wait times for permanency.