Today, the state announced an increase in funding for foster children who’ve aged out of the system.
Fostering Connections is Tennessee’s largest transitional living program for teens who age out of state custody when they turn 18. The Tennessean newspaper reports the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and Youth Villages share the cost of the program. This year, the state is increasing its funding by almost $900,000, which means the state and Youth Villages will give $3 million each. DCS officials say that could be enough to serve every teen who ages out of foster care in Tennessee, as long as they join the program, called Fostering Connections.
The program allows the state to continue paying foster parents who let young adults keep living with them beyond age 18 and those who want to be independent can get state help to pay for schooling and housing. Also, case managers have weekly face-to-face visits with those who’ve aged out of the system until age 21 .
The DCS has been under a court order since 2002 to improve assistance to teens who age out. Youth Villages has worked with more than 5,000 teens in the state since 1999 and is expected to serve more than 800 this year alone.
As many as a quarter of teenagers who grow up in foster homes nationwide end up homeless and twice that number are unable to find employment.