Youth Transitioning from Foster Care

Youth Transitioning from Foster Care August 2010

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments, as well as state, local, territorial and tribal child welfare agencies and dependency courts and judges to enact laws and rules, and to develop policy and practice changes that:
(1) Promptly, fully, and expansively implement the older youth provisions of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act and, in particular, extend foster care, independent and transitional living services, adoption assistance, and guardianship assistance to all youth and young adults
through at least age 21;
(2) Ensure that dependency court jurisdiction is extended for young adults who elect to remain in child welfare agency care until at least the age of 21 (or any earlier time the young adult may elect to leave care) and that all Title IV-E requirements including case planning, transition planning, and court oversight are met;
(3) (a) Give young adults the option to exit care upon the age of 18 or at any age afterwards, but ensure that these young adults fully understand the implications and magnitude of any decision to exit care and are provided support and services to ensure a smooth transition to adulthood, and (b) create a mechanism for young adults who exit care after attaining age 18 to re-enter care through age 21; and
(4) Ensure that young adults in child welfare agency care are: (a) actively involved in all phases of permanency, independent living, and transition planning; (b) present at, and actively engaged and informed participants in, their own dependency court proceedings; and (c) represented by a well trained, competent
and effective client-directed lawyer in all dependency court proceedings through the termination of their case and in any reentry into care thereafter.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges the development of regulations and guidelines in regard to the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, including but not limited to: (a) a broad and flexible definition of federally reimbursable “supervised settings” in which young adults are “living independently” based on the best practice experiences of states with effective models; (b) an expansive interpretation of the Act’s language defining the youth and young adults eligible for federal funding for care, support and services through age 21; and (c) clarification that all Title IV-E requirements, including representation and court supervision, are applied to young adults who remain in child welfare agency care through age 21.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges state and local bar associations, law firms, and individual lawyers to develop and promote pro bono programs to ensure that youth and young adults have access to needed transitional supports and services and that the rights of youth and young adults are fully preserved while in, transitioning from, or after exiting child welfare agency care.

These represent only those ABA Policy Resolutions in which the Commission on Youth at Risk was the principal sponsor.

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