This summer, 12 young adults who were formerly in foster care, as a part of congressional internships though Foster Youth Internship Program, released policy recommendations on how to improve the foster care system.
Twenty-two year old Kristopher Wannquist made recommendations surrounding extended foster care, a program that was established in Nebraska in 2014 called Bridge to Independence (B2I). As part of B2I, young adults ages 19 to 21 who were formerly in foster care can get extended services and support to help them transition from foster care to adulthood – including health coverage, a housing stipend, and guidance from a caseworker.
Wannquist recommended that states’ extended foster care programs allow eligible young adults to join at any time before they turn 21. Some young people may not want to be involved with the system any longer when they age out, but then later decide they would like to join B2I. Wannquist also recommended that states should be required to inform eligible young adults about extended foster care options before they leave the system.
In Nebraska, we are proud to already have both of these recommendations as legal requirements in our state law. However, states that haven’t extended foster care to include these recommendations should look to California for numbers on why these provisions are important.
In California, 2,143 young people have entered extended foster care after attempting to live on their own (a quarter of all youth in their program). Wannquist shared a personal story about his brother who was never informed about extended foster care and ended up experiencing homelessness after aging out.