School of Public Policy Capstones

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This paper examines how Connecticut can best utilize the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008: H.R. 6893 / P.L 110-351 (Fostering Connections Act). As of October 1, 2010, the legislation was amended to expand foster care services using Title IV-E funds. Title II, sec.201 of the Act provides states the option to extend foster care to youth through the age of 21. Connecticut already extends care to youth committed to DCF through age 21, and in some cases through age 23, yet it has one of the highest rates of youth exiting care at age 18. In exchange for extended care, youth are required to be enrolled in full-time post-secondary education. Youth unable or unwilling to meet this requirement are those most vulnerable to the well documented perils of former foster care youth. The Fostering Connections Act enables Connecticut to significantly expand services to 18-21 year olds emerging from foster care by offering greater flexibility in service delivery. Under the new legislation, youth have a variety of choices other than full-time post-secondary educational enrollment to meet eligibility requirements to remain in care through age 21. This paper outlines five alternatives for Connecticut to implement the new legislation. Criteria used to consider alternatives are: identification of the problem, effect on equity, cost effectiveness, maximization of benefits, and political feasibility. I recommend a statutory change to the term “child” to include youth ages 18-21 in DCF care, and technical exits from care at age 18, with immediate re-entries into care. This will enable Connecticut to greatly reduce the amount of youth aging out of care who are not prepared for adult independence, and take full advantage of the new legislation.

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