Over the past decade, policymakers and child welfare practitioners increasingly recognize that youth who experience foster care need continued support past age 18. As a result, policymakers have increased funding to support young people ages 18 and older who are in and/or transitioning from foster care. Within this new funding environment, however, little is known about how funding streams come together to provide supports for this population. This report draws on interviews the authors conducted with 19 child welfare leaders in eight jurisdictions to highlight how jurisdictions are using existing funding sources to serve this population and examine the funding challenges they continue to face. We identify policy issues for the child welfare field to consider as they seek to improve services and supports for young people transitioning from care.
Across the eight jurisdictions in which we conducted interviews, federal funding sources provide the underlying structure for services to young people ages 18 to 21 transitioning from foster care. These sources include the Title IV-E Foster Care Program, which provides extended foster care for youth 18-21; the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood, which provides funding to help prepare older youth in care to successfully transition to adulthood; and others. Together, these funding streams provide continued foster care placements, case management, transition services, health and mental health services, and more. Jurisdictions invest significant state and/or local resources to make the required match to draw down these federal funds. Jurisdictions also fund services and supports beyond what federal dollars can finance, frequently using other funding sources to invest in post-secondary supports; extension of certain services beyond federal age requirements; and intensive, individualized supports.
Due to the difficulty of breaking out spending by age of children and youth, as well as the complexity of funding streams, most interviewees were unable to provide specific information about child welfare agency expenditures for services and supports for young people 18 and older. However, some existing data sources shed light on this topic. Although jurisdictions vary greatly in how they use federal, state, and local funding sources, we know that services and supports for this population rely on significant state investment, and that Chafee funding (one of the main federal funding streams for this population) is a small portion of overall child welfare agency expenditures for this group of young people.
Interviewees identified the following challenges to funding needed supports to this population.
Based on the challenges identified by the child welfare leaders we interviewed, we believe the following policy issues deserve further exploration by federal, state, and local policymakers; providers; funders; advocates; and young people who have experienced foster care.
This report, informed by what interviewees shared about the challenges and successes experienced in the eight jurisdictions, is intended to begin a conversation about how the child welfare field can address the funding challenges that must be resolved in order to enhance services and supports for this population. The field must continue to build on federal, state, and local policymakers’ commitment to this population and work to ensure that all young people have what they need to make a successful transition from foster care to adulthood.
© Copyright 2024 ChildTrendsPrivacy StatementNewsletter SignupLinkedInThreadsYouTube