DPA 8100 – Fundamentals of Public Administration Research
by Barbara M. Green-Flood
Capella University November, 2014
As of 2014, it is estimated that close to a half-million children live in the child welfare system. Of the half-million children living in the child welfare system a third of these children will “age out” of the child welfare system without a permanent family or a place to call home. When the term “age out” is used, it refers to youth who have become emancipated from the system. These youth are now considered adults. Many of these youth leaves the system with very little to no resources or support. Some will end up homeless, incarcerated, human trafficked, and some dead.
Studies have shown that when youth “age out” of the child welfare system they are faced with numerous challenges such as, not being able to support themselves, financial instability, finding affordable and safe housing, obtaining health insurance, finding work, and continuing their education. As the number of youth aging out of the system continues to grow, so does the need to provide these youth with the necessary tools to be successful as they transition out of the system.
In 2009 the government signed into law the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008. This legislation included the re-evaluation of many areas of the child welfare system laws, particularly the laws surrounding older youth aging out of the child welfare system. Since the passing of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act 2008, the Federal legislation ordered states to set the well-being of youth in foster care as their priority. “The Fostering Connections Act has brought national attention to the important needs of older youth in foster care and has prompted thoughtful action amount many state policy and programmatic leaders; however, more needs to be done”. (Cooper, Jordan & Mc-Coy-Roth, 2013, p. 32)
The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act 2008 law extends the youth care until he/she reaches the age of 21. The law also requires states and all those who are involved in the care of children, to assist every child in preparing a personalized transitional plan once the youth reaches the age of 17 and every six months thereafter until the youth reach the age of 21. The transition plan is an opportunity for the youth to set goals and plans as to how they will access health care, find a job, further their education, and prepare living arrangements. This transitional plan is an opportunities for the youth to maintain supportive services and workforce support. (Cooper, Jordan & Mc-Coy-Roth, 2013, p. 30)
History of the Laws in Child Welfare System
In 1974 the United States Congress became aware (with the assistance of many citizens and advocate groups) that the child welfare system was not providing adequate protection for vulnerable children. Hence the Child Abuse Prevention & Treatment Act was born. This law paved the way for other legislation around the prevention and protection of children. In 1980 the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act was establish requiring states to form a data collection and reporting system tracking the care of children placed in the child welfare system. In 1990 the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act was established. This law was established to fund abuse and prevention of tribal children. In 1994 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act was established to decrease the time children wait to be adopted and to prevent discrimination in the placement of children and in the selection of foster and adoptive placements.
In 1997 the Adoption and Safe Families Act was established, this law placed direct timelines on the operation within the child welfare system. In 1999 the Foster Care Independence Act was established to