Transition from Foster Care: A Cross Sectional Comparison of Youth Outcomes Twenty Years Apart

Thom Reilly, David Schlinkert

Young adults aging out of the foster care system have received a good deal of attention over the years from policymakers, child welfare practitioners and researchers. Despite these efforts, youth aging out of the foster care system continue to have well-documented challenges when transitioning to adulthood.

In this cross-sectional comparative study, we assess the outcomes of emancipated youth after the initiation of an extended after care program and compare the results with the outcomes drawn from a prior study conducted twenty years earlier. Overall, young adults in the 2021 study fared significantly better than their 2001 counterparts.

They had increased positive health outcomes, were more financially secure, had a notable decline in involvement with law enforcement, were engaged in less illegal activity, had better educational outcomes, fewer job terminations, were experiencing less homelessness, were less likely to be married, and had fewer pregnancies and children than youth in the 2001 study. The provision of training and concrete services was associated with more positive outcomes. The article advances implications for policy interventions.

Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal