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January 2021Vol. 22, No. 1New Report Highlights How to Best Serve Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

A new report from Think of Us, Aged Out: How We're Failing Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care, presents findings from a study conducted to help inform the work of serving youth who are aging out of foster care.

Between fall 2019 and spring 2020, Think of Us partnered with Bloom Works and five partner sites across the United States (Santa Clara County, CA; First Place for Youth in Solano and San Francisco Counties, CA; The New York Foundling in New York City, NY; Hennepin County, MN; and Uplift Family Services, San José, CA) in an effort to better understand the transition process for youth aging out of care and identify gaps in the system that need to be addressed.

Study researchers conducted indepth interviews and participatory design workshops with youth formerly in foster care, youth currently in care, child welfare professionals, supportive adults, foster parents, and others concerned with the welfare of youth aging out of the system. A total of 206 participants were interviewed in 92 research sessions.

The interviews and research sessions revealed the following three key themes that represent where child welfare stakeholders should focus their attention:

  1. Healing and dealing with trauma
  2. Centering youth in their preparedness
  3. Helping youth build a supportive network

The report also includes details on the sources and long-term effects of trauma, preparing youth for life after foster care, and helping youth build a strong network of support.