Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=218389
Story Retrieval Date: 4/18/2014 12:42:12 AM CST
In 1912 President William Howard Taft created the Children’s Bureau, which was the first federal agency in the world concentrated exclusively on improving the lives of children and families within the U.S.
The Social Security Act, created during the New Deal era by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established the federal foster care program under Title IV-E. Within this program, children are provided with safe and stable out-of-home care until the children are safely returned home, placed permanently with adoptive families or placed in other planned arrangements for permanency. Foster care was designed to be a temporary safe haven for a child to escape neglect or abuse, but not a permanent solution.
In 1999 Congress passed the Foster Care Independence Act, which created the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. This program provides states with flexible funding to help youths transition from foster care into adulthood. Services in finances, housing, health, education and employment are offered to support these youths to self-sufficiency, but only while still in the system.
In 2002 the Education Training Voucher was added offering foster youths up to $15,000 per year for post-secondary education and training until age 23. There are a couple of issues that limit the value of this. Some of the youth who age out of the system have changed schools multiple times, had to repeat a grade and cannot financially afford college right after high school, making it difficult for them to complete college in the time allotted. And the money doesn’t go far. The University of Illinois estimates total freshman tuition and fees for state residents at $28,204 to 33,028.
By 2008 President George W. Bush signed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act, which included the extension of foster care services from 18 until 21. This provision did not take effect until October 2010. Currently, only 16 states have approved this extension, including Michigan, Indiana and Minnesota. Illinois, New York and Washington, D.C., were the only three places prior to this legislation to provide resources for youths until the age of 21.