Arizona youth aging out of foster care missing out on services
PHOENIX — Numerous services are available to young people aging out of foster care in Arizona, but only a fraction of the intended recipients are taking advantage.
A new brief from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds only 25 percent of youth who aged out of foster care take advantage of services offered such as money to cover housing and college tuition.
Other services available include being connected to a case work. They can also get help enrolling in college, applying for a job, getting a state ID and opening a bank account.
“These services really support youth,” said Meghan Arrigo, associate director of child welfare policy for the Children’s Action Alliance. “They have greater rates of graduation from high school and obtainment of postsecondary education degrees. They are also more likely to be stably housed and have employment.”
Currently, the extended services are available to youth who were in the state’s foster care system and are between 18 and 21 years old. However, they are not automatically enrolled.
Arrigo said changing the current policy to makes extended foster care at age 18 automatic.
“This will help ensure that young people are able to more readily access those services, and to ensure that the message is clear and loud that we want them to participate in order to be successful in adulthood,” she said.
Arrigo added that lack of awareness of the programs is a cause of low rates. Many young people who have aged out of foster care don’t know about the extended services available.
“We need to do a better job of making sure young people know that’s an option available to them,” she said.