What Happens When You Age Out of Foster Care? What Should I Do?

January 19, 2022

Erin Jerome

woman with grad capWhen youth age out of the child welfare system without being placed in a permanent home or reuniting with family, their support can go away overnight. Each year, more than 23,000 young people age out of foster care system, according to the National Foster Youth Institute.

Without support along the way and a safe place to live, these young people can have problems transitioning into adulthood, including a higher risk of homelessness, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and underemployment. Support is available through CAU and other organizations to help youth achieve important goals and greater independence. 

Aging Out of DCF

Youth who turn 18 and are in a foster home may be able to stay with their foster families, or they may be eligible to get their own apartment or other support services with help from the NJ Department of Children and Families. Talking to a social worker or lawyer can help you plan your next steps. Conversations about transition should be ongoing before and after you turn 18!

Hundreds of teenagers in New Jersey age out of the system every year. Without a stable family or support system, transition services are critical to give youth the tools they need to build successful futures. 

Aging Out of Foster Care? Here’s What You Should Do First

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Young adults in New Jersey leave foster care at age 18-21, but DCF can help connect youth to transition services. These services can provide housing, life skills training, help with medical needs, and support to help you enroll in college or find employment. Services are based on the area you live. 

DCF also offers a transition guide for youth to plan their transition into adulthood that includes advice for education, employment opportunities, and what to do to ensure you have medical coverage. 

The NJ Children’s System of Care, a division of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, also provides a resource list, including links for behavioral health and substance abuse help. 

NJ 2-1-1 is a free 24/7 resource that can help connect you to services for housing, food, child care, health, legal help and more.

Contact Us to Learn About Our Youth Programs in New Jersey

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Community Access Unlimited offers comprehensive youth services, including our Transitional Opportunities Program (TOP)Youth enrolled in the TOP day program participate in an employment training workshop, a GED program, or volunteer job practicum for a minimum of 30 hours per week. TOP members may receive 24-hour supervised residential living, community services, daily living skills training, case management, advocacy and outreach, education in accordance with the NJ Approved Life Skills Curriculum, and drug and alcohol awareness education.

CAU also helps youth at risk through our youth shelter, college access program, employment services and youth advocacy. The Pathways to Academic and Career Exploration to Success (PACES) program supports youth in foster care in their transition to postsecondary education, employment and workforce readiness.

Contact us to learn more about youth programs at CAU!

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