Many Pennsylvania foster parents continue to support their foster children beyond the age of 18. They say that many of their foster children simply aren’t ready to be on their own, so they continue to support them because they care about them. However, prior to Pennsylvania’s adoption of the federal 2008 Fostering Connections Act, those foster parents were not receiving subsidies for caring for foster children between the ages of 18 and 21.
For many foster parents, this was a financial hardship they were willing to undertake in order to give a foster child the best start in life possible. Now, since Pennsylvania has adopted the 2008 Fostering Connections Act, those who are willing to either adopt or become legal guardian for a foster child will continue to receive subsidies from Fostering Connections until the child reaches the age of 21. This not only provides financial help to the adoptive parent or legal guardian, but also eliminates certain administrative costs for the State of Pennsylvania.
In addition, the act also allows foster children who checked themselves out of care at the age of 18 to re-enter foster care if they find they are not ready. The provision gives foster children the same benefit most children who live with their natural parents already receive. With the country in a recession and the rising costs of college tuition, being adopted or put under a legal guardianship until they are 21 may save thousands of foster children and give them the chance to succeed.
The adoption of the 2008 Fostering Connections Act by the Pennsylvania legislature has given both foster children and foster parents a new peace of mind. Those who are willing to adopt or become legal guardians for foster children from 18 to 21 years old will now have financial help from the state. In the end, it’s an affirmation for those who already know that young adults may not always be ready to be on their own just because they turn 18.
Source: pennlive.com, “Pennsylvania’s implementation of federal law allows youth to remain in foster care until age 21,” Clara Ritger, July 14, 2012