Indiana will extend foster care to age 21 and independent living services to age 23. The move to extend these services comes after a recommendation from the Commission for Improving the Status of Children (CISC) and the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group’s June 2018 audit of the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the change on Dec. 6.
In August, Indiana Connected by 25, a child welfare advocacy group, presented a recommendation to CISC to increase the age limit for foster care and independent living services beyond 18 years of age. Studies show an increase in college attainment rates and a decrease in early pregnancy rates in states where foster care continues past 18.
According to data provided by the state for youth who age out of foster care without permanent families: more than one in five become homeless after 18; 58 percent graduate high school by 19 (compared to 87 percent of all 19 year olds); 71 percent of young women become pregnant by 21, resulting in high rates of unemployment, criminal convictions, reliance on public assistance and involvement in the child welfare system; only half are employed by 24; less than three percent finish college by age 25 (compared to 28 percent of all 25 year olds); and one in four will engage with the criminal justice system within two years of leaving foster care.