If you are final discharged, the agency no longer has legal custody or authority over you. If you reach age 21 and do not wish any further contact with the agency, or when your trial discharge period ends, you are considered to be final discharged. Before your 21st birthday, the agency must seek permission from the court to approve your final discharge, and must notify your lawyer 10 days before your discharge becomes final. If you become homeless after a final discharge, the agency does not have to place you back into care or to offer you services or referrals. However, in rare cases an exception may be made so that you can continue to receive some services or support. You should contact your law guardian immediately if you find yourself in this situation.
A final discharge may seem like the quickest and best way to leave foster care and move on with your life. However, there are important benefits to remaining on trial discharge status after you leave your foster care placement. If something falls through, such as your housing, your job, or your school financing, you still have your agency or ACS to turn to, and they have a legal obligation to help you. Since it is hard to know before you leave care whether you will need their help after you are discharged, it’s worth considering the option of a trial discharge. Think of it as your backup plan and safety net for your future.