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March 2018Vol. 19, No. 2State Trends in Providing Services to Youth Transitioning From Foster Care

A new survey of state independent living coordinators offers a detailed look at the services and supports provided to young people transitioning from foster care. The nationwide survey, conducted by Child Trends with support from the Better Housing Coalition and Children's Home Society of Virginia, finds that the availability of affordable and transitional housing is a primary concern for youth aging out of foster care.

The 2016 survey collected data from independent living coordinators in 47 of the 52 states and territories that were contacted. Survey responses addressed state trends in six major service areas: postsecondary education; employment and career development; financial capability; safe, stable, and affordable housing; health and mental health care; and permanent relationships with supportive adults.

Major findings include the following:

  • Housing was most commonly cited as an area in need of improvement. Housing is a primary concern for 21 states or an area states are actively working to improve.
  • Three-quarters of respondents reported that most young people in their states leave foster care before the maximum permitted age. In 27 states that extend foster care to age 21 or older, young people typically exit the system at age 18.
  • In all six categories, the array of services is similar for youth ages 18-21, regardless of whether they are in or out of foster care.
  • Available services and supports drop off considerably in most states as soon as a young person reaches age 21. The report notes that most states offer some opportunities for this group in the areas of postsecondary education, employment and career development, and access to health and mental health care.

Supporting Young People Transitioning From Foster Care: Findings From a National Survey is available at