Marna Miller, Devin Bales, Michael Hirsch - May 2020
The 2017 Washington State Legislature directed the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) to conduct a study of a policy allowing eligible foster youth to receive foster care services between the ages of 18 and 21.
We studied numerous outcomes for youth “aging out” of foster care as they transitioned to adulthood. Between 2006 and 2018, the percentage of youth receiving extended foster care (EFC) services increased from 5% to 80%.
Compared to non-participants, the average youth participating in EFC was more likely to be employed and have greater earnings. EFC also significantly reduced homelessness, receipt of public assistance, use of medical emergency departments, reduced diagnosis of substance abuse and treatment, and criminal convictions. We also found that EFC reduced the involvement of offspring in the child welfare system.
Our benefit-cost analysis found that the EFC program produces $3.95 of lifetime benefits for each $1 invested. Of the total benefits, 40% represents savings and revenue that would accrue to state, local, and federal governments.
In a survey of other states, we found that almost all states provide some foster care services after youth turn 18, although eligibility criteria vary.