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We know foster care is for children, but what happens when youth in foster care turn 18? It’s an important question and we’re glad you’re interested in learning more. Before we get to the “what happens,” let’s take a moment to clarify how kids get to that spot in the first place.
In Texas, when it’s not safe for kids to be in their family’s home, the state is granted Temporary Managing Conservatorship and children are placed with a foster family. The word “temporary” is important because the aim is for kids to return home as soon as possible.
Child Protective Services helps their parents make sure their family and environment are safe, and they also look for relatives and family friends. If the situation can’t be resolved within 12-18 months, the court may award Permanent Managing Conservatorship to the state.
So what happens when kids reach 18 and they are still in foster care?
As legal adults, these youth have the right to emancipate (age out) from the foster care system. Most 18-year-olds in foster care are weary of rules, caseworkers and close supervision, so it’s no surprise that most choose to emancipate. Last year, more than 1,200 teens aged out of the Texas foster care system.
It’s not uncommon for 18-year-olds to go away to college, enlist in the military or start off on a new adventure. But, most 18-year-olds become “independent” with a lot of help and support from their family. Can you imagine starting life as a young adult with no legal ties to anyone and no guarantee any of the adults in your past are a safe place you can turn if you run into trouble? Without support, we see high rates of homelessness, incarceration and other troubling outcomes for many young adults that age out.
But, with the love and support of a family these young adults can count on – whether that’s affirmed by legal permanency or a commitment in their heart – the future often looks very different.
Teens and pre-teens in foster care need families that are willing to join their story. They need families who will see their strengths and potential and want to be an important part of their life for all the years ahead.
If it’s important to you that kids in foster care have great families, now and when they become adults, we want to get to know you. Call 512-212-5700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with us or Join An Online Info Session to learn more.