Aging Out of Foster Care and Why 18 Year Olds Still Need Help

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. — About 10,000 young people in foster care in Kentucky will age out of the system when they turn 18. Some say that’s too young to take on the world alone.

A handful of charities, like the Boys and Girls Haven in Louisville, will offer help transitioning to independent living; even then, voluntary services only last for clients until they are 21. 

Some people are working to offer help to youth, beyond the age of 21. 

Anna Porter is a client of the Boys and Girls Haven. As she raves about her cozy 2-bedroom Elizabethtown apartment, she’s thankful for the charity’s help with counseling, paying rent, and providing some furniture. 

Porter went into foster care at the age of 16 and left at 18. She feared living on her own without the Boys and Girls Haven’s help would lead her back into the family situation she found herself in before the state’s out-of-home care removed her from it. 

“It definitely was a very abusive situation and with my family, I didn’t want to go back into that cycle,” Porter explains. 

Now, she can’t fathom trying to live independently without assistance. “When you turn 18, you’ve got that [thought] ‘I’m an adult’ but I’ve still got that teenage angst. I hate to admit it, but we do!” she laughs.

In Kentucky, the help transitioning through charities like these is voluntary. Stacy Brindley, a program director for the Haven, would like to see more youth entering their help and more help for clients older than 21. She says there are efforts to make that happen underway. 

“What we’re finding for foster youth, is that [services] up to 21 is still not enough,” says Brindley, “we as a group are working together to extend some of the programs.”

The National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI) finds that less than 3% of those coming out of foster care graduate from a 4-year college. That’s one thing groups like the Haven want to change. 

Porter just wants her peers not to be afraid to ask for help, as she did.