Foster Care and Adoption
Federal law requires the child welfare system to ensure every foster youth aged 14 and older has a “transition plan” detailing where and how they will live, work, attend school, and receive other critical services once they exit care. We partnered with the Alliance for Children’s Rights, the Children’s Law Center, and the Edelman Children’s Court to conduct a comprehensive assessment of transition planning practices in LA County, which revealed that these plans are often incomplete, or lacking altogether. As a result, many foster youth are left to navigate adulthood without the support they, like any young person, need to reach self-sufficiency. This publication highlights our findings and recommendations for practice improvements.
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Therapeutic foster care is a special type of foster care that ensures foster children with severe mental and behavioral health issues grow up with families that receive special training and intensive clinical support to address children’s individual needs. Los Angeles County’s child welfare system has one of the largest populations of foster children with mental and behavioral health needs, yet has a shortage of foster homes equipped to care for these children. In an effort to expand the number of therapeutic foster homes, from 2011 to 2014, we partnered with the County’s 12 foster family agencies that provide therapeutic foster care in a collaborative campaign to implement recruitment strategies informed by academic and field research, marketing experts, and foster parent surveys. Initial research and findings from the campaign is highlighted in this publication.
Los Angeles County’s transitional housing and supportive services reach only a small percentage of the more than 1,000 foster youth between ages 18 and 21 who age out of the system each year. As the majority of youth exiting care at this age are doing so without a permanent family, these services are critical in providing youth the necessary stability they need to enter adulthood. In an effort to improve service delivery, we partnered with three major housing and service providers to evaluate their case plans, services, and strategies for youth success. In partnership with these providers, we also successfully advocated and worked with county agencies to remove a set of long-standing barriers that had prevented at-risk youth from accessing or taking full advantage of housing, education, and employment programs. This publication outlines our findings and recommendations for practice improvements.
National research indicates foster youth who age out of care between 18 and 21 without the support of a permanent family fare more poorly than their peers in a variety of areas. A United States Department of Labor study concludes that few youth leave the foster care system prepared for work, which complicates their ability to achieve self-sufficiency. Since 2009, one of our key priorities has been helping to connect current and former foster youth to meaningful job experience and workforce exposure. Early in this initiative, we took an in-depth look into how the child welfare system could integrate with the public workforce system, which is designed and funded to support disconnected youth and adults. This publication highlights findings from our initial work in this arena, and presents recommendations for improving coordination across these systems and removing barriers that prevent foster youth from accessing jobs and vocational training.
ExtraordinaryFamilies is a leading nonprofit foster family, adoption and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the daily lives, and long-term outcomes of children impacted by child welfare, from newborn to young adults.
Working with children and families, we combine best practices with proven research and advocacy to create visionary policies, innovative programs and scalable services that produce measurable improvements in the lives of children and families involved in child welfare or at risk of involvement.
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