Supporting Young People Transitioning Out of Foster Care
The Fair Futures Youth Advisory Board is dedicated to advocating for youth who have experience within the foster care system in New York City to ensure youth receive the necessary supports they deserve. As a coalition of more than 100 organizations, Fair Futures developed the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) to successfully coordinate current and former youth with experience in foster care with strong voices to advocate for their needs.
Photo Credit: Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
Challenge and Context: Providing Support, Stability, and Skills for Young People In and Aging Out of Foster Care
Everyone, regardless of where they start, should have the opportunity to succeed. The transition to adulthood is challenging for anyone, and for older youth in foster care, that transition is made more difficult because they often don’t have the support network or the resources they need to reach their full potential.
For transition-age youth (TAY), young people between the ages of 14-26 who are in or transitioning out of the foster care system and into adulthood, this can be especially true. More comprehensive supports can ensure transition-age foster youth receive the things that all young people need to thrive, such as:
- Better coordinated child welfare policies and systems that are easy to access, work for young people and reinforce the healthy biological, psychological, and emotional development needs that accompany young people transitioning from foster care.
- Quality educational and job training programs that target the specific needs of young people who have spent time in the foster care system.
- Continued support after a housing or job placement to help TAY sustain and maximize the opportunities they have.
- Government and social service systems that connect with each other and are built for ease of use to make accessing services and benefits easier for young people and providers.
- Addressing racial bias which improves outcomes. A disproportionate number of children and youth in foster care in Los Angeles (87%), New York City (90%) and Atlanta (76%) are people of color, and bias in treatment and disparities in outcomes occur throughout the system, compounding injustices and trauma facing TAY.
There is an opportunity to change the way young people experience foster care and ensure that they transition out of it successfully.
What We Do: Build a Better Bridge into Adulthood
We partner with organizations that engage young people in the foster care system and put them at the center of our work, hearing their experiences and working alongside them to help build a better bridge into adulthood.
Young people have clear hopes and dreams for their future. We also uplift young people’s visions for their futures and work alongside communities and systems to connect BIPOC and LGTBQIA+ children, emerging adults, and caregivers to the social, emotional, and economic supports critical to their wellbeing.
We work to ensure all transition-age youth with experience in the foster care system can lead healthy, meaningful, and choice-filled lives by providing them with the connections, support, stability, and skills to pursue their chosen educational and career opportunities. Core to that is our emphasis on supporting the dismantling of racial and social inequities, including discrimination and economic inequality, reflected in our foster care system.
With the right support, a stable home, and the right skills, young people are able and ready to fulfill their educational, career, family, and lifelong well-being goals. The ultimate aim of this work is to erase any disparities in education, employment and well-being that affect transition-age foster youth. We focus on investing in direct services for foster youth and their caregivers, in advocacy and systems change efforts, in building knowledge within the field, and in advancing research and evaluation.
Part of our approach includes close collaboration with our Opportunity Youth work, helping set up adolescents for success and well-being into adulthood by actively involving young people and employers in industries with meaningful career pathways.
Our Current Focus
- Amplify transition-age youth (ages 14-26) experience, voice, and input
- Advance an equity focus on expectant and parenting youth, youth who have been commercially and sexually exploited, and LGBTQ+ youth who have experienced foster care
- Recruit, retain, and equip caregivers who are able and supported to offer unconditional support
- Advance national momentum through partnership, collaboration, and data-sharing
- Explore preventive interventions for youth in middle school
By supporting the healthy physical, social and emotional development and wellbeing of transition-age youth, we help them thrive as adults. Programs that offer financial assistance, life skills, access to mental health services and ongoing supportive relationships improve the overall well-being of transition-age youth in the long-term.
Our efforts are focused on supporting transition-age youth with experience in the foster care system in Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta.
The following vital elements reinforce our work:
- Ensure transition-age youth with experience in the foster care system have the agency and power to participate in and contribute to the decisions that directly impact their lives
- Address the systemic inequality and marginalization of youth and families of color in the child welfare system
- Focus on healthy social and emotional development and wellbeing
- Support tailored education and career pathway programs for transition-age youth
- Increase stable family-based care and housing with a strong preference for close family members as caretakers
- Engage federal, state, and city-specific policymakers with quality TAY-focused data, including the evidence provided by people with lived-experience to inform funding decisions
- Work to link systems across agencies and locations to improve services provided to youth and shared knowledge and best practices
- Provide robust training and services to support reproductive health and parenting using a two-generation approach to address the needs of parents and their children simultaneously
- Focus support on young people disproportionately represented in the child welfare system, including people of color (Black, Hispanic, Native American), LGBTQ+ youth, expectant and parenting youth, and youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation
The Impact of the Work: Transition-Age Youth Exit Foster Care Successfully
As transition-age youth emerge into adulthood, their needs are the same as other young adult needs: they need opportunities to stay plugged into the resources and relationships for ongoing success. When we effectively meet their needs, youth transitioning out of foster care can lead the kind of healthy, meaningful, and thriving lives they most desire, and that can make communities whole.
Meet the Foster Youth Team
Jeffrey Phillip Forrest Director, Older Youth Initiatives
Erica Fener Sitkoff, PhD Senior Advocacy Officer, Older Youth Initiatives, Strategy and Programs
Liz Clark Thasiah Program Officer, Foster Youth
Angela LoBue Senior Program Officer, Foster Youth
Angelina Soll Program Officer, Foster Youth
Daniel Sanjines Program Associate, Foster Youth