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ERIC Number: ED509761
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 57
ISSN: ISSN-1075-7031
The Difficult Transition to Adulthood for Foster Youth in the US: Implications for the State as Corporate Parent. Social Policy Report. Volume XXIII, Number I
Courtney, Mark E.
Society for Research in Child Development
Although they make up a relatively small proportion of all children in the U.S. foster care system, foster youth approaching adulthood have over the years attracted considerable attention from policymakers. Three times in the past 25 years the Social Security Act has been amended to try to better support the transition to adulthood for foster youth. The new Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act represents a fundamental shift away from the goal of preparing foster youth to be independent of state assistance by the age of majority towards an active engagement by government in parenting foster youth into adulthood. This policy shift reflects an evolving understanding of normative transitions to adulthood and growing knowledge of the particular challenges faced by foster youth in transition. In this report, I briefly describe the U.S. child welfare system, summarize research on the transition to adulthood for foster youth showing that they generally face a very difficult transition, and examine the evolution of U.S. policy towards foster youth using the concept of "corporate parenting." I conclude that recent policy developments provide an excellent opportunity to improve transition outcomes for foster youth, but that lingering challenges still exist including: likely state reluctance to expand the parenting role; a poor knowledge base regarding the effectiveness of independent living services; the lack of established and well-evaluated models of coordination between child welfare agencies and other public institutions in supporting foster youth; the complex nature of "permanency" for foster youth in transition; and the fact that the new law still excludes important populations of foster youth. I argue that policy and program development must be accompanied by strategic use of research and evaluation to maximize the opportunity provided by the new policy regime. (Contains 3 footnotes.) [Commentaries by Jane Waldfogel, Robert Schwartz, and Jennifer Pokempner are included.]
Society for Research in Child Development. 2950 South State Street Suite 401, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Tel: 734-926-0600; Fax: 734-926-0601; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serial; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research in Child Development
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Social Security Act