Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Success Beyond 18 newsletter! Recent activities in the states show that momentum is growing across the country to better support the development and success of older youth in foster care. At the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, we are excited to be working closely with states to improve the odds for teens and young adults transitioning from foster care to adulthood.
Through the Success Beyond 18 campaign, we are helping states extend foster care services and "do it right" so that young people can realize their full potential to succeed in life, in work, and in healthy relationships. As part of our efforts, we have developed a series of resources for state policymakers and implementers, including a white paper that provides a blueprint for the policy and practice changes needed to create a better path for young people transitioning from foster care.
Read on for powerful stories of how young people are leading the Success Beyond 18 charge in their states, tangible examples of state-level policy and practice improvements, and relevant news from around the field. We hope you find this information helpful to your work, and invite you to utilize the resources we've created to better serve the teens and young adults transitioning from foster care in your state.
For the latest campaign developments, visit our website or find us on Twitter and Facebook. If you have questions about Success Beyond 18, please contact Nancy Tully.
Gary Stangler, Executive Director
Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
|CAMPAIGN NEWS & RESOURCES
The Jim Casey Initiative has created a series of resources
to help policymakers and implementers advance Success Beyond 18
in their own states. We hope you'll utilize these resources in your advocacy efforts, whether that's online through social media or on your website, or in presentations at meetings and conferences.
This month, we're excited to unveil a first-of-its-kind infographic
that gives a side-by-side comparison of the cost of doing nothing versus the benefits of extending foster care and doing it right
Visit our website
to access the full series of resources and to learn more about the Jim Casey Initiative way to create a better path for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood.
If you have questions about how to use any of these resources or would like to access the infographic in a specific file format, please contact Nancy Tully
|PROGRESS IN THE STATES
The June 2013 passage of Ready by 21 legislation (HB163) - which was guided and shaped by direct input from young people - extends developmentally appropriate independent living services for former foster youth in Delaware, up to age 21. This legislation builds on the collective efforts of public and private partners who have worked collaboratively for many months to improve outcomes for youth transitioning from foster care, and once again demonstrates the state's commitment to older youth in foster care. In fact, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who helped launch the Jim Casey Initiative's national Success Beyond 18 campaign in May 2013, is a strong proponent of taking steps to support older youth in foster care, and has proclaimed his commitment to ensuring they "have the opportunities they need to succeed along their path to adulthood." Visit the Delaware Youth Opportunities Initiative website and Facebook page to learn more about Ready by 21 and about the upcoming Ready by 21 Summit.
Inspired by the advocacy of current and former youth in foster care, the Florida legislature recently enacted the Nancy Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act (SB 1036), giving young people the option to remain in foster care until age 21. This legislation, which reinforces research that shows extending foster care to age 21 can reduce the negative life outcomes young people often face as they transition from foster care to adulthood, is the second of its kind in Florida this session.
On July 1, 2013, Hawai'i Governor Neil Abercrombie - surrounded by youth advocates, public officials, and community stakeholders - held a public ceremony to sign into law the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Program (SB1340). This landmark legislative victory extends foster care services and supports to eligible youth until age 21, and is the result of the collaborative and dedicated efforts of many public agency leaders, judicial officials, issue experts, and other advocates. We are especially proud of the leadership provided by the Hawai'i Youth Opportunities Initiative, EPIC 'Ohana, Inc., and the many young people from across Hawai'i who shared their personal experiences in meetings, at legislative hearings, and with the media in order to help decision makers understand the pressing need for change. To learn more about the unique perspectives of youth advocates in Hawai'i, be sure to check out the 2013 edition of the HI H.O.P.E.S. Youth Advocacy Document and the personal testimonies of the youth advocates who helped make SB1340 a reality.
Joining a growing number of states that allow young people to re-enter foster care between ages 18-21, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently passed legislation that allows older youth to re-enter and remain in foster care until age 21. Missouri previously allowed young people to remain in foster care until age 21, and had re-entry limitations for young people who left foster care before turning 18.
Congratulations to Nebraska on the passage of the Young Adults Voluntary Services and Support Act (LB216
) after more than two years of advocacy and awareness raising efforts. The new law, signed on June 4, 2013, extends care and supports to youth formerly in foster care (ages 19-21) who voluntarily enroll in the program. Thanks to the new law, young people will now be able to drive their own health care coverage, housing support, and case management services based on their individual needs. To learn more about
the youth advocates who fought for a successful and bright future for youth transitioning from foster care, visit the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
and Project Everlast
The Virginia legislature recently passed Senate Joint Resolution 282, signaling an ongoing momentum in the state's advocacy efforts on behalf of young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood. This legislation - which asks the Virginia Department of Social Services to develop and present options for implementing the extension of foster care and adoption services up to age 21 - continues a multi-year effort to bring more funding to the state through the Fostering Connections Act.
In May 2013, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5405 into law, extending foster care services to young people until age 21. This legislation was broadly supported by advocates for youth in foster care and leverages the federal support for extended foster care made available by the Fostering Connections Act.
SUPPORT FOR A #BETTERPATH
We encourage you to join Jim Casey Initiative Young Fellows and many other young people around the country in building a "buzz" about Success Beyond 18. In each newsletter, we'll highlight some of our favorite #betterpath tweets - like the tweets below from our launch event - and share important updates on our social media efforts.
|NOTES FROM THE FIELD
It's been a busy spring for many policymakers, implementers, and advocates working on behalf of older youth in foster care. Here at the Jim Casey Initiative, we've been busy getting the word out about the need for policy and practice reforms for older youth in foster care through Congressional testimony and presentations with partner organizations.
- Jim Casey Initiative Executive Director Gary Stangler and Antwone Fisher (author, director, and film producer who experienced foster care firsthand) together shed light on child welfare policy and practice and foster care reform in a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on April 23, 2013.
- Lynn Tiede, senior associate director for policy at the Jim Casey Initiative, also participated in Congressional testimony, speaking before the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources on May 9, 2013 about the importance of "letting kids be kids."
- The Jim Casey Initiative has also been invited to speak about Success Beyond 18 during a number of meetings and webinars, including those being held by the National Foster Care Coalition, Women in Government, and the Alliance for Children and Families.
WE WANT TO KNOW...
Have you seen Success Beyond 18 policy or practice improvements in your state? Click here to share your stories.