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May 2019Vol. 20, No. 4Housing Options for Young Adults in Extended Federally Funded Foster Care

A research brief prepared by the Urban Institute and Chapin Hall for the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services attempts to address key gaps in best housing practices for young adults in extended federally funded foster care (EFFC). EFFC extends foster care for young adults between the ages of 18 and 21 who have aged out of the system and includes independent living services, foster care room and board, permanency planning, and judicial oversight. EFFC is a product of the 2008 amendments to the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which gives states financial incentives under title IV-E of the Social Security Act to support young adults in foster care until they turn 21.

The report, Housing for Young Adults in Extended Federally Funded Foster Care, is based on conversations with public child welfare officials in states with the largest populations of 18- to 21-year-olds in foster care. The report asks several research questions, including the following:

  • How do child welfare agencies address housing issues for young adults in EFFC?
  • What types of housing are available?
  • What determines eligibility for housing?
  • What are the challenges of housing adults in EFFC?

The report found three types of housing for young adults in EFFC (not necessarily available to every young adult or in all jurisdictions):

  • Family-based settings (e.g., foster family homes, relative foster homes, treatment foster homes)
  • Congregate care settings (e.g., group homes, residential treatment facilities, transitional living in clustered or single-site apartments)
  • Supervised independent living settings (e.g., scattered site apartments that are private market or agency-owned, host homes, college dormitories)

The report points out that supervised independent living facilities were developed expressly for young adults in extended foster care and that several jurisdictions impose restrictions when shared housing is involved (e.g., young adults share an independent living apartment), such as a required criminal background check or restrictions on allowing a biological parent or significant others to assume residence. It also notes that local child welfare policy governs eligibility for the different housing options (e.g., age, educational attainment, employment) but that most of these criteria are to ensure that young adults in such settings are capable of living on their own. The report also looks at housing options for young adults with developmental disabilities or with serious illness who may require special support.

Factors that determine a young adult's housing options, in addition to eligibility requirements, include the number of available slots, costs, the preference and needs of the young adults, caseworker knowledge about available options, information available to young adults, and financial incentives from housing providers. Challenges include market conditions, a shortage of subsidized housing, resource gaps in more rural areas, and a hesitation on the part of landlords to rent to young adults.

Housing for Young Adults in Extended Federally Funded Foster Care is available at