Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

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Introduction
Across the country, on an annual basis, varied aged youth are disposed into foster care for a variety of reasons such as uncontrolled behaviors, parental/caretaker abuse, neglect and/or substance dependence of a parent/caretaker. Intended to be impermanent, arrangements [foster care placement] are with an understanding of the primary goal being that of reunification with the parent/caretaker in the majority cases. Contrariwise, an ever-increasing percentage of youth entering the foster care system are unable to succeed in reunifying with their parent/caretaker. Due to the inability to reunify, the youth’s reside within the foster care system until age eighteen at which point they [the youth] “age out” of the foster care system. Upon discharge, the youth are typically unprepared to navigate through their lives successfully. Most lack education, housing, medical insurance, and are deficient in adaptive skills (self-direction), functional academics for everyday life, social skills, persistent mental illness, substance abuse disorders and an extensive involvement in the criminal justice system translating into, among other issues, unemployment/underemployment, unstable housing, imprisonment, and various mental health and medical illnesses that can progress unaddressed. Field Setting

CBH collaborates with the Division of Social Services (DSS) where each youth receives Medical Assistance [health coverage], while CBH covers the behavioral health portion of treatment for those youth who have a need. Behavioral health issues have an increased risk due to multiple placements within the foster care system. Clinical Care Managers at CBH oversee the discharge planning process in collaboration with providers such as Department of Human Services (DHS) where the youth is in surrogate placement. Population Served

The served population are the youth committed to oversight by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, who are in substitute care placements throughout the state of Pennsylvania, and receiving behavioral health services with Community Behavioral Health (CBH). The youth are in the discharge planning process resulting from the youth reaching the “aged out” juncture with DHS. As youth reach, the aged out point, the youth will no longer receive any type of medical or behavioral coverage, which includes CBH. Because CBH commits itself to helping people live in the community as well as helping people live with the community, it tasks master level social workers [CBH] to participate in the discharge plan of the identified youth. This process, a transition plan, helps to ensure the youth a range of supports as the transition occurs, from child welfare (DSS and CBH) and into an identified adult medical and mental health system along with other acknowledged areas needing support. Summary of Article #1-Transition to Adulthood for Vulnerable Youths: A Review of Research and Implications for Policy

The article Transition to Adulthood for Vulnerable Youths: A review of Research and Implications for Policy begins with a brief explanation of the effects of youth who have “…spent large parts of their lives in substitute care…generally experience multiple problems…” It [the article] notes specifics such as “Less attention…paid to issues related to aging out of care and supervised independent living programs for adolescents in the child welfare system.” The editorial examines the “History of Independent Living Policy” notating changes in public law that include the “1985…Independent Living Initiative…amended Title IV-E…Social Security Act to provide federal funds to states to…develop independent living skills.” Additional changes in law discussed involves “…the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993…” where “The Independent Living Program was reauthorized indefinitely…” to the “Foster Care Independence Act of 1999… to provide states with more funding and greater flexibility to carry out...
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