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No foster child left behind: an analysis of the impact of California's Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2010 in Kern County
In the United States there are over 500,000 children in foster care. The state of California ranks among the highest in the nation with approximately 100,000 foster children --children of all ages, backgrounds and varying needs that have been removed from their homes or families. In general, society allows sufficient time for transition age youth (typically ages 16-25) to graduate high school, go to college, or begin a career before expecting them to be completely out in the real world on their own. Not only has it become socially acceptable to live at home with parents past the age of 18, most young adults have the option and luxury of moving back home if needed; it is happening more frequently than not. Studies show that on average, most young Americans do not achieve true financial independence until age 26. As a matter of fact, parents actually provide an enormous amount of support to their children up to this age. Yet, until recently, we expected our most vulnerable youth, foster youth, to be able to live on their own with little or no assistance at the age of 18. This is because most state laws require foster care support to end once a foster youth turns 18, when a youth becomes an adult. But what many don’t realize is that when these foster care youth “age out” of the system, they are only left with a small garbage bag with some of their belongings, and if they’re lucky, some documents pertaining to their history. They are expected to fend for themselves with no parental safety net, no financial security, some with no high school diploma, and few, if any, connections to adults who have actually been there for them (Courtney, Mark E., et al., 2013). This paper analyzes the implementation of California’s Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2010, otherwise known as AB 12, which was passed in efforts to increase and ensure the success of former foster care youth past the age of 18.
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