Foster Care After You Are 18

Your Rights in Foster Care
6. Getting Out of Foster Care: Your Permanency Plan

Foster Care After You Are 18

You are allowed to stay in foster care until you are 21. After you are 18, you can leave when you want. The agency is supposed to check out where you will be living once you leave.

This is what the agency has to do for you:

  • identify people, services, or agencies that will help you maintain and support yourself.
  • help you contact them and talk to you about them. The agency must help you contact your parents, old foster parents, or anyone else you think can help you once you leave foster care.
  • notify you in writing at least 90 days before you will be discharged (leave the agency). They don't have to do this if you choose to leave the agency on your own and stay away for 60 days (2 months).
  • find you a place to live. The agency cannot discharge you to independent living unless you have a place to go. That place cannot be a shelter. The agency has to believe that you will be able to stay in your new place for at least 1 year after discharge.
  • keep you on trial-discharge status for 6 months, or longer, up to your 21st birthday. This is so that if you need to go back into foster care you can.
  • work with you during the trial discharge.
  • take you back into foster care if you become homeless.
  • help pay for college. (Read the School section on College.)

At some agencies, you will go shopping with your caseworker for the things you need to buy with your discharge grant. Other agencies let you purchase the items you need and provide receipts for the money you spent.

It is up to you if you want your agency’s help after you turn 18. Some kids do and some never want to see the agency again. It's important to remember that even if you have had trouble in the past with the agency, they are supposed to help you, and you can and should take advantage of what they can do for you.