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October 2008Vol. 9, No. 8How Courts Can Help Keep Foster Youth in Care Beyond Age 18

The role that courts can play in keeping youth in foster care beyond age 18 is the focus of a new issue brief from the Chapin Hall Center for Children. In the study, authors Clark Peters, Katie S. Claussen Bell, Andrew Zinn, Robert M. Goerge, and Mark E. Courtney examined practices in Illinois, one of the few States that extend care to age 21.

The study involved analysis of administrative data, a statewide survey of caseworkers, focus groups with substitute caregivers and with youth, and site visits to interview court personnel across the State in an effort to identify the major factors that influence whether young people remain in care beyond age 18. Findings indicate that strong advocacy within the juvenile court on behalf of foster youth plays a primary role in keeping youth in care. Court advocacy also can affect retention rates indirectly by exerting an influence on other factors that play a role in child welfare agency decisions regarding keeping foster youth in care. A higher degree of court advocacy is associated with a greater availability of placements and services for older foster youth, more involvement by caseworkers and other adults, more positive attitudes about remaining in care beyond age 18, and a greater awareness that, by law, youth may remain in care beyond age 18.

Continuing in Foster Care Beyond Age 18: How Courts Can Help can be downloaded from the Chapin Hall website.