Aging Out Of Foster Care

Imagine being 18 years old, stepping into the world with no safety net, no family support, and the daunting responsibility of self-sufficiency weighing on your young shoulders. This is the stark, often harsh reality for thousands of kids who age out of the foster care system each year in the United States.

Without sufficient support, many of these young adults struggle to handle the complexities of adulthood and are more likely to grapple with mental health issues, substance abuse, and underemployment. 

Here, we cover the obstacles these kids face, delve into the systemic issues that demand attention, and highlight the role of support programs in building a brighter future.

What is aging out of foster care?

Aging out of foster care is a term that describes the transition that occurs when children, typically at the age of 18, are no longer eligible for support from the foster care system. This transition often comes at a time when they are still grappling with the complexities of adolescence and are suddenly expected to navigate the adult world independently.

Recognizing these challenges, some states, including California, have extended the age of eligibility for foster care services. The passage of Assembly Bill 12 (AB 12) which took effect on January 1, 2012, led to the creation of the Extended Foster Care (EFC) Program, raising the eligible age for foster care services to 21

The goal of this program is to provide them with the additional support and resources they need to transition into adulthood successfully. But despite the efforts made with programs like EFC, the road ahead remains challenging for many of our youth. 

The truth is, even with extended support, not all can seamlessly step into independence right after exiting the foster care system.

Statistics on aging out of foster care

For foster youth stepping into adulthood seemingly overnight, the transition can be incredibly daunting. The safety net that the foster care system provides, though not without its flaws, suddenly vanishes. This often leaves these kids to face the complexities of life on their own, without the guidance and support that their peers might have.

The statistics we've gathered paint a vivid picture of the magnitude of these challenges and highlight the urgent need for support and resources to aid this critical transition:

These statistics shed light on the systemic challenges that need our attention: the absence of stable housing, the scarcity of economic opportunities, gaps in education, and the increased risk of substance abuse. 

It's evident that these young adults, who are just stepping into adulthood after a challenging childhood in foster care, need more than just support until they turn 18 or 21. They need a community that continues to stand by them, guide them, and believe in their potential to overcome these obstacles and thrive.

What happens when you age out of foster care?

The transition from foster care to independence can be as daunting as it is abrupt, especially when they're just beginning to navigate the complexities of life on their own.

As we know, one of the most immediate and tangible challenges these young adults face is securing stable housing. Without the safety net of foster care, the risk of homelessness and housing instability looms large. A stable home is more than just a roof over one's head - it's a foundation from which to build a future, a cornerstone of stability that many of us take for granted.

But the challenges don't stop at housing. Aging out of foster care also means losing access to a host of other critical resources. Educational support programs, health services, and life skills training - all of these are suddenly out of reach, just when they're needed the most. These resources play a crucial role in equipping young adults with tools to successfully navigate life's complexities, from pursuing higher education and finding employment to maintaining physical and mental health.

In fact, the loss of these resources can have profound implications. Consider that 25% of 19-year-old former foster care youth reported a higher incidence of health problems than their non-foster care counterparts, including illnesses, accidents, injury, drug use, or emotional problems.

At Penny Lane, we understand these challenges. We see the resilience and strength in these young adults, and we are committed to standing with them during this critical transition. We believe that every kid deserves the chance to build a better future, regardless of their past. And we're here to ensure they get that chance.

How Penny Lane supports youth aging out of foster care

Our commitment to these young adults goes beyond understanding their challenges. We actively work to provide the support they need to navigate this critical transition.

We believe in their potential, and we're here to help them realize it.

Housing Programs 

Stable housing is the bedrock of a secure life, yet it's a resource that many young adults aging out of foster care struggle to secure. Our Transitional Housing Placement Program for Non-Minor Dependents goes beyond simply providing a roof over their heads. It's a sanctuary, a place where they can feel safe and focus on their future. 

This program is a stepping stone towards independence, providing not just housing, but a nurturing environment that fosters growth and self-sufficiency.

Transition Age Youth (TAY) Drop-In Centers

The journey to adulthood can be a lonely one, especially for those who have aged out of foster care. Our Transition Age Youth Centers are designed to bridge this gap. 

These are not just places to pass the time; they are vibrant communities offering connection, resources, and guidance. Here, the teens who just aged out of the foster care system can find a sense of belonging and access the tools they need to navigate adulthood.

How to help youth aging out of foster care

Whether you choose to donate your time or resources, your contribution can transform lives and create a ripple effect of positive change.


If you're wondering how you can help youth aging out of foster care, especially if you're unable to make a financial contribution, consider volunteering your time. As a volunteer, you can touch the lives of young people transitioning out of foster care in meaningful ways. 

Your actions can inspire them to reach for their dreams, and your dedication can show them that they are not alone in their journey.


Imagine the difference you could make in a young person's life by sharing your wisdom, experience, and guidance. By becoming a mentor, you can provide a listening ear, offer advice, and be a positive role model that inspires them to reach their full potential.


Your generosity can make dreams come true. Whether you choose to make a one-time donation to Penny Lane Centers or set up recurring donations, your financial support can provide the resources these young adults need to successfully transition to independent living. 

Your contribution can be the key that unlocks their potential and paves the way for a brighter future. Donate today.