Expansion of Foster Care to Age 21
Louisiana will extend foster care to age 21 for all youth in care on their 18th birthday, following the recent passage and signing of Senate Bill 109.
Foster Care to Age 21
Louisiana will extend foster care to age 21 for all youth in care on their 18th birthday,
following the recent passage and signing of Senate Bill 109.
SB 109, authored by Sen. Regina Barrow and included in Gov. John Bel Edwards’s legislative package, follows through on the recommendations of a legislative task force which found that extending the age of care would help improve outcomes for foster youth. The Governor signed the bill into law on June 6, 2019.
The voluntary program will allow the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to provide intensive services to aid in youths’ transition to adulthood.
Former foster youth, serving as interns through the Louisiana Institute for Children in Families, testified in the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, chaired by Barrow, about the impact that the continued support of extended care would have had on their lives.
“This is going to change the lives of countless youth in foster care in Louisiana,” DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said.
Louisiana continues to work with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, as well as nonprofit partners Youth Villages and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, to implement its extended foster care program. The program began in 2018, following the passage of Sen. Ryan Gatti’s SB 129 (Act 649), which extended care for foster youths working toward a high school diploma or equivalency.
The new law will extend care to all foster youth who reach age 18 while in foster care, have not yet turned 21, and meet one of the following criteria: enrolled in a post-secondary vocational or educational program; enrolled in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment; employed at least 80 hours per month; or have a medical condition that renders the young adult incapable of engaging in any of these activities.
Youth who have already “aged out” of foster care will have the opportunity to enroll in the program.
For more information about Louisiana’s extended foster care program, visit www.dcfs.la.gov.