The Youth Law Center (YLC), the Institute for the Future (IFTF), and the California Youth Connection (CLC) hosted a webinar on Wednesday, January 31st to release a report they published titled “On the Threshold of Change: Forces that Could Transform Future Conditions for Youth in Extended Foster Care.” This report contains strategic foresight to better equip every young adult in extended foster care (EFC) to thrive by 2035.

YLC Executive Director Jennifer Rodriguez gave historical background in explaining that, in 2008, Congress authorized states to use federal funds for EFC purposes, up until the age of 21. EFC has been shown to reduce homelessness and crime, as well as raise economic stability for youth involved. However, these benefits are minimal and many participants are still struggling. YLC partnered with IFTF and CYC to envision a future of EFC with the opportunities and challenges of the future in mind. They explained that challenges over the past decade, such as a pandemic, advancing technology, and climate crises, have created additional obstacles for youth who exit foster care. Instead, the organizations argue, they should be better prepared and equipped not just to survive but thrive.

Ms. Rodriguez explained that the four forces that could transform EFC in the future include equitable transition, restorative care, relational design, and computational advantage. Equitable transition will ensure basic resources are available, restorative care emphasizes holistic well-being over crisis care only, relational design will create nurturing family ties and social connections that will last over time, and technological advances will be used in support of resource provision and teaching digital dexterity. These ideas were created through input from individuals with experience in foster care and will improve outcomes for youth who participate.

Efforts toward equitable transition have already been introduced through a bill that would guarantee income for older youth exiting foster care. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has released information about their Guaranteed Income (GI) pilot program and how to apply here. The executive summary of the EFC report can be found here.

By Bayley Levine, Policy Intern