Advocacy for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

Advocacy for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

Adolescents Confronting Transition (ACT) Project

This project is funded by generous grants from The Robin Hood Foundation and the Pinkerton Foundation

The Challenge:

Adolescents who are preparing to age out of the foster care system face countless  obstacles to success.  These young adults—or “forgotten adolescents”—are all too frequently warehoused in foster care without targeted services to help them make the crucial transition to independent adult lives.  Without strong educational supports, vocational training, access to adult mentors and support, and proper permanency planning, they risk discharge to unstable living arrangements and an uncertain future of homelessness, economic instability or even incarceration.  

The shortage of relevant and effective services for adolescents in foster care constitutes a profound crisis.  There is a critical need for these vulnerable young adults to receive assistance in accessing the community-based support they need to succeed as independent adults and to break the cycle of poverty, homelessness and violence in their families.

LFC’s Response:

The ACT Project provides legal and social work services to young people aging out of foster care, directing specialized attention advocacy and resources to this critically under-served population. Through the ACT Project, our clients achieve better education outcomes, acquire vocational and other job training, receive therapy and appropriate medical services, and get help developing meaningful connections to caring adults who can support them through this time of transition and beyond. Providing sustained and intense advocacy for these young adults can make a dramatic positive difference in their lives, helping them re-enter the community as successful, independent adults.

The ACT Project is comprised of two attorneys (one Project Director and one Housing Advocate); three Master's-level, state-certified social workers, one of whom is the project’s Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents specialist; and two Youth Advocates (young adults who themselves were in foster care). The ACT Project works seamlessly with several of LFC’s other special projects (which focus on education, mental health, and immigration) and collaborates with outside providers (such as the Legal Aid Society, The Door and Advocates for Children) to advocate on behalf of this group of underserved young adults in foster care, whose unique needs call for representation and advocacy tailored to their complex life circumstances.

Additional ACT Project initiatives include: LFC’s Youth Advisory Board (which holds monthly meetings for 50-60 current and former foster care youth); LFC’s Threads to Impress Closet (clothing appropriate for job and school interviews and events); LFC’s Support Group for Young Mothers & Fathers and Pregnant Youth in Foster Care; and LFC’s Baby Boutique and Young Mother’s Closet (maternity and infant books and clothing). 

Anthony"Anthony had no family to support him, and he feared that any gap in housing would lead to homelessness."

Read Anthony's Success Story

In order to preserve client confidentiality, names and other details have been changed. Volunteer models appear in all photographs that depict LFC clients. Photographs courtesy Ben Fink Shapiro Studio and Jasmin Ortiz.