What Happens When Kids Age Out of Foster Care?
May 24, 2024

What Happens When Kids Age Out of Foster Care?

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Aging out of foster care represents a pivotal moment for many young individuals. It signifies the shift from a protective and nurturing system to the reality of independent adulthood. This transition brings with it distinctive challenges and opportunities that can profoundly influence their future paths.

The Statistics: A Glimpse into the Reality

Every year, approximately 20,000 young adults age out of the foster care system in the United States. These individuals, typically between the ages of 18 and 21, face an uncertain path ahead. While some manage to transition smoothly, others encounter significant hurdles. Statistics reveal that within four years of aging out:

  • Nearly one-quarter will experience homelessness.
  • Only half will be employed.
  • Less than 3% will earn a college degree by age 25.
  • Many will grapple with mental health issues and lack of access to continued education and support.

These statistics highlight the urgent need for comprehensive support systems that extend beyond the foster care system's traditional boundaries.

Different Paths After Aging Out

The experiences of youth aging out of foster care are diverse. Here are some common paths they may take:

Extended Foster Care

In some regions, youth can remain in foster care beyond the age of 18, often up to 21 or beyond. This extended care provides crucial additional support during the transition to adulthood. Assistance with housing, education, and employment ensures that these young adults have a stronger foundation as they step into independence.

Education Pursuits

Education can be a transformative pathway for youth aging out of foster care. Many choose to pursue higher education, applying for scholarships, grants, or financial aid to attend college or vocational training programs. Educational institutions and non-profits increasingly recognize the unique needs of these students and offer dedicated support services to help them succeed. Learn more about Foster Loves’ scholarships here.


Directly entering the workforce is another common route. These young adults seek employment opportunities to support themselves financially. Workforce development programs and partnerships with businesses can play a pivotal role in providing job training, internships, and employment opportunities tailored to their needs.

Building a Supportive Community

The journey of youth aging out of foster care reminds us of the power of community. By fostering empathy and support, we can help these young adults navigate their paths with greater confidence and hope. Here are ways we can collectively make a difference:

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  • Mentorship Programs: Volunteering as a mentor can provide guidance and stability.
  • Educational Support: Donating to scholarships and educational initiatives that specifically support former foster youth can open doors to brighter futures.
  • Employment Opportunities: Businesses can offer internships, job training, and employment opportunities tailored to the unique needs of these young adults.
  • Advocacy: Supporting policies that extend foster care services and improve access to mental health resources, education, and housing can create systemic change.

By coming together, we can ensure that every young adult aging out of foster care has the opportunity to thrive. Let's rally behind them, offering our compassion, resources, and unwavering support as they transition into this new chapter of their lives.

For more information on how you can get involved and support youth aging out of foster care, visit FosterLove.com or contact us directly. Together, we can make a meaningful difference.

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