Advocates In RI Push To Extend Foster Care Age Limit To 21

May 25, 2017

Foster children age out of the system in Rhode Island as soon as they turn 18. But advocates say that’s too young. Those advocates are pushing state lawmakers to extend foster care.

A decade ago young people were allowed to stay under the care of the state until age 21. But in 2007 the state reduced the age to 18.

Now some politicians and advocacy groups are pushing to get the age back to 21. Elizabeth Burke Bryant head of the children’s advocacy nonprofit Kid’s Count RI supports the proposal.

“What we’re seeing from both national research and experience in Rhode Island is that when you have a "cost-saving measure" in terms of rolling back the year for DCYF to formally be supporting young people, you end up paying the cost of failure,” said Burke Bryant.

Those costs stem from a higher likelihood that young adults leaving foster care will end up homeless, face addiction, or have other emergency health needs.

Burke Bryant said young people who have been in state care often need more services as they transition to adulthood.

“The notion that, after being in the care of DCYF, you turn 18 and then basically by law you are on your own to negotiate all of that, that is required for a successful transition to adulthood, doesn’t make sense,” said Burke Bryant.