Foster care age should be extended

December 12, 2013

Ohio could make a dent in the tide of homelessness and other problems that befall foster-care teenagers after they age out of their homes by extending the age when foster care ends from 18 to 21.

A number of states have done so recently, including Nebraska and Michigan, thanks to a federal law that provides significant resources to help defray the cost. …

Intuitively, that makes sense. Few parents would push their teenagers or even 20-somethings out of the nest without further contact and support and expect them to do well on their own, points out Gary Strangler, CEO of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative based in St. Louis….

Foster kids face special obstacles, often coming from biological families where abuse, neglect and abandonment make it even more difficult to be successful, independent young adults.

Yet regardless of those obstacles, Ohio’s foster care children are now “emancipated” from the system after they reach the age of 18….

That’s where the federal government comes in. Under a 2008 law, the feds have sweetened the pot by paying half the foster-care costs for any state that extends the age, encouraging Florida, California, Michigan, Nebraska and other states to take the leap….

That’s why allowing 18-year-olds to stay in foster care for a few more years should be the law of the land.

— The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer