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November 2004Vol. 5, No. 9Aging Out of Foster Care

A new book puts a personal face on the challenges of youth aging out of foster care. On Their Own: What Happens to Kids When They Age Out of the Foster Care System by Martha Shirk and Gary Stangler tells the stories of 10 youth and their struggles to take on adult responsibilities once they became too old for foster care. Some of the common challenges faced by these youth included finding employment, finishing their education, finding affordable housing, and, in too many cases, dealing with life on the street.

The final chapter of the book suggests strategies at the local, State, and national levels that can help improve the lives of these youth by improving their experiences with education, employment, housing, health care, and personal and community engagement. The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative is cited as an example of a national effort aimed at helping youth transition out of foster care. Currently, the Initiative is focusing on demonstration projects in up to 18 cities in which youth are provided with an "opportunity passport" to gain access to services, funds, and programs that will help them work toward independence.

On Their Own is published by Westview Press; more information can be found at

Related Items

For more information about youth aging out of foster care, see the following articles in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

  • "Foster Youth Receive Some, Not All, Independent Living Services They Need" (May 2004)
  • "Casey Foster Alumni Achieve Success in High School Graduation, Employment" (February 2004)
  • "Supporting Successful Transitions for Youth" (November 2003)
  • "Youth Aging Out of Foster Care Face Uphill Climb to Adulthood" (May 2003)
  • "Study Reports Employment Outcomes for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care, Creates Baseline" (November 2002)