CHICAGO – To help ensure foster youth have access to resources as they transition out of foster care, state Rep. Lakesia Collins, D-Chicago, introduced legislation to raise the age of those eligible for child welfare services to 23.
“To ensure that our foster youth have the opportunity to be successful after foster care, it is important that we extend services available to them as they transition into young adulthood,” said Collins. “There are numerous challenges for foster youth when transitioning out of care, and extending the age allows for these individuals to maintain their access to resources that will help them become independent.”
Collins introduced House Bill 4206 to extend the age of foster care eligibility. Currently, the foster care system ages individuals out at the age of 21. Collins’ proposed change will aid those who are transitioning out of foster care by maintaining eligibility for child welfare services that will assist them to achieve sustainable self-sufficiency as independent adults. Although the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) offers programs to assist foster youth with attaining self-sufficiency, Collins believes raising the age will provide extra opportunities and resources for individuals to reach sustainable independence.
“Currently, all foster youth are cut off from support as soon as they turn 21, leaving them with virtually no support,” Collins said. “By extending the age to 23, the foster care system can oversee how individuals transition into adulthood and provide additional support to set them up for a successful future.”