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Challenges in Foster Care for Older Youth

March 22, 2019 / by Victor Staff

Foster TeensFor youth 14 and older in foster care the risks for struggling in school, entering the criminal justice system and potential homelessness later in life increase. So what are the factors in this increased risk and where are the opportunities to help older youth be successful in foster care and into adulthood?

Maine Public Radio recently hosted a panel interview where this was the subject and offered great insight into this issue. They dig into the challenges of older youth in foster care and also discuss how to improve outcomes.

Originally Posted by: Maine Public Radio

Jan. 28,2019

Foster Care for Older Youth: What are the Challenges and Opportunities Facing these Youth?



Selected Highlights: 

Ahmen Belanger Cabral, policy associate, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine

Think about adolescence, and then navigating what you want to do for your career or your post-secondary goals while also navigating a really challenging system such as foster care. What do they want to do when they become adults? They need opportunities to explore that with consistent adults in their life. They need a secure support network of caring adults that help them navigate those different choices along the way. My parents were still helping me with taxes, still helping me navigate getting my first apartment well beyond the age of 21. So we need to start thinking about supporting these young adults well into their mid-twenties or even thirty, based on adolescent brain development. 


What Changes and Improvements Are We Seeing in the System?

Carleigh Boston, national advocate for anyone ages 14-26 who has ever been in foster care.

I'm personally seeing a lot of progress in my work with other alumni of the foster care system. The more that we have opportunities or groups for young people who have experienced care to be a part of, to have a sense of belonging, we're definitely finding more leaders through that. The more leaders that we're identifying through doing this work, people who have actually experienced the system, the more that we can turn an eye and say, "Hey, this is the reality of what's going on in our system."


Ahmen Belanger Cabral, policy associate, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine 

We have the great privilege of working with a group called the Youth Leadership Advisory Team, which is comprised of young people in foster care 14 and up, and it's a partnership with the Office of Child & Family Services. We're coordinating monthly groups across the state for young people. Our work is really informed by the young people that are within those groups, so we're hearing directly from youth in care around what is working to help them achieve their goals, what are the supports that are helpful, what are the barriers to them reaching their goals?

We take that information that we hear directly from young people and then we work with the OCFS leadership and other young people around what is the policy change we need to make or the practice change we need to make? So I would say we have a nice list of things that continue to improve that is based out of what we're hearing from young people.


Dulcey Laberge, youth transition team leader, Office of Child and Family Services, Maine Department of Health & Human Services

Within the Office of Child & Family Services, we recognize that we really need strong community partners, both public and private organizations, that work with us. We're happy to partner with these organizations in the community, which really brings resources and supports to our youth. Many of these organizations support a lot of the other young people that you were mentioning, young people experiencing homelessness or exiting juvenile justice. They're really critical partners and really making a strong resource community for our young people. 

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Build a Support Network to Create Opportunities

One of the key takeaways from this interview is the importance of a support and resource network for adolescents in foster care. At Victor, we know the importance of collaboration, in fact Teamwork is one of our core values. That's why we partner with schools and other agencies to provide the best support network possible for youth. We rely on our relationships to help us succeed in our mission, just as our clients need relationships they can rely on to navigate life's challenges.


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Topics: foster care

Victor Staff

Written by Victor Staff

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