Change Indicator

Foster Care - Youth (age 18 to 20) aging out during reporting period in Pennsylvania

Foster Care - Youth (age 18 to 20) aging out during reporting period

Downloading image...

loading...
Note: Non-consecutive years appear adjacent in the trend line
because one or more years have been deselected.

Why This Indicator Matters

Foster care, also known as out-of-home care, is a court-monitored process that involves removing children from their families following a substantiated report of abuse or neglect. [1] All child maltreatment reports are investigated by either Child Protective Services (CPS) or General Protective Services (GPS), depending on the nature of the referral, to determine the child’s safety within the household as well as the level of risk for future harm.[2] Children are typically only placed in foster care after family preservation and in-home services fail to improve their safety and well-being in the home. Out-of-home placement is often viewed as temporary, as achieving and maintaining permanency is always the primary priority of child welfare agencies, whether that be in the form of reunification with their caregivers or finding new homes with relatives or adoptive families.[3] Family issues with substance use, mental illness, or domestic abuse are among the most common factors that lead to children entering the foster care system.[4]

By examining the number of foster youth ages 18 to 20 who are aging out of care each year, researchers are able to track longitudinal trends and changes associated with children who never achieve permanency. As shown in the following table, the number of youths in foster care who age out of the system in Pennsylvania appears to be decreasing at a rate that is consistent with the decreasing foster care population in general. Children who never find permanent homes after being removed from their families often form weak bonds with caregivers that cause many adverse outcomes during adulthood. This includes higher rates of incarceration, unintended pregnancy, food insecurity, housing instability, unemployment, low incomes, educational deficits, receipt of public assistance, and mental health problems. [5] Research findings also suggest that the majority of youth aging out of foster care first experience unplanned occurrences that create an impediment to achieving self-sufficiency within the first 12 months after leaving care, including job loss, eviction, homelessness, death of a loved one, or dropping out of school.[6] To improve youth’s chances of leading successful lives after aging out of foster care, policy must focus on extending eligibility for housing and educational support and providing other forms of assistance.


[1] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2023). Overview: Out-of-Home Care. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/outofhome/overview/

[2] Rizvi, M. B., Conners, G. P., King, K. C., Lopez, R. A., & Rabiner, J. (2022). Pennsylvania Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33351411/

[3] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2023). Achieving & Maintaining Permanency. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/permanency/

[4] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2023). Achieving & Maintaining Permanency. United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/permanency/

[5] Lockwood, K. K., Friedman, S., & Christian, C. W. (2015). Permanency and the Foster Care System. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 45(10), 306-315. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cppeds.2015.08.005

[6] Rome, S. H., & Raskin, M. (2019). Transitioning Out of Foster Care: The First 12 Months. Youth & Society, 51(4), 529-547. https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X17694968

show more

Definition and Source

PROVIDER

Definition

Youth (age 18 or older) who exited from foster care to a non-family setting (emancipation, transfer to another agency, or runaway).

Data Source

PPC analysis of AFCARS longitudinal file produced by Public Consulting Group for Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth and Families.

Notes

S = Suppressed.  Statistics (rates, ratios, percents) are not calculated and displayed for counts less than 10 (or less than 3 for Bayesian/Nearest Neighbor rates). This is due to the unreliability of statistics based on small numbers of events.

Last Updated

January 2024