“Aging out” occurs when youth taken under the state’s custody are still in the foster care system when they reach the age of majority or when they have graduated from high school. Thousands of youth between eighteen and twenty-one age out of foster care each year as essentially “legal orphans” [Lash, 2014], with no connection to family or a supportive network, and very poor life prospects. Longitudinal studies across the country show very high rates of homelessness, incarceration, unemployment, and lack of access to health care among former foster youth [Courtney et. al., 2011]. These outcomes are disproportionately worse for Black, Native, and Brown youth, as well as queer and trans youth.
Between fall 2019 and spring 2020, Think Of Us partnered with Bloom Works (Bloom) as well as five locations across the United States to better understand the transition process for youth aging out of foster care. Our initial goal was to identify gaps in the system that Think Of Us could address in our next phase of product development. However, we gathered so many insights that we didn’t anticipate that our team wanted to share these with the broader child welfare ecosystem.