This article from the Chronicle of Social Change tells the story of Meritsa Sedillo - a young woman in the U.S. who found herself living on the streets after her grandparents, who were her primary caregivers, died in 2017 - and how she got access to the support and foster care services she needed only through the juvenile justice system.
"There are more than 7,000 adults in extended foster care in California receiving financial and casework support for housing, jobs and education during the first four years of adulthood. Most of those eligible turn 18 while in the child welfare system but have not been adopted or reunified with family.
Countless others have no access to such support, even when they are approaching age 18 in precarious circumstances, with no one and nothing to rely on. There are no hard numbers on how many young people like Meritsa can’t get into foster care as older teens, and thus lose eligibility for benefits that could sustain them through age 21," says the article.
"Extended foster care 'can make the difference between street homelessness and having a job and a home, so it can be amazing when it works well,' said Lilly Chen, a supervising attorney with Bay Area Legal Aid. 'Our challenge over and over again is helping young people knock down the door to get into foster care.'”