Bill proposes foster care ‘age out’ changes

Posted: Apr 29, 2013 5:35 PM EDTUpdated: Apr 29, 2013 6:21 PM EDT

By Clifton French
FORT MYERS -Right now, children in foster care are kicked out of the system as soon as they turn 18. There are programs that help them find jobs, get an education and give them financial support, but they’re forced out of a home with a family. That could all change next year with a bill that’s getting major support in the state legislature.

SB 1036, known as the “Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act“, would increase the age from 18 to 21.

“We’ve adopted 6 kids through the foster care system,” Rebecca Hoskins, a long time foster parent, said.

Hoskins has fostered 90 kids in 9 years. She adopted 6 of them so they have a permanent place to live.

She says she is a strong supporter of the new bill.

“If a child ages out at 18 and they’re not adopted, they’re forced to move from the people that have taken care of them, they don’t have anyone to go to,” she said.

Her oldest daughter is a good example. Now 19, she’s still finishing up high school, something that would have been tough if she wasn’t adopted.

“She would have stayed with me as long as possible, but I don’t know what they would have told her, ‘OK, you’re 18 sorry,'” Hoskins said.

The new legislation would give a foster child the option to leave the system at 18, but would also give them the option to come back before their 21st birthday.

“Our agency supports anything that’s good for children,” said Aimee McLaughlin with the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida.

McLaughlin believes the new legislation will help older foster children.

“They can have support form an agency, the courts can look in on them,” she said. “For a child who’s living in a foster home that might be in high school, it means they can continue a relationship with a parent that they have built a bond with.”

McLaughlin says if all 28 children in foster care turning 18 this year in Southwest Florida were to decide to stay in foster care longer, it would cost about $100,000 to implement the new program – a number that would grow in the next couple of years.

She also says it’s hard to predict how much it will cost because they don’t know how many children will wish to stay.

Experts do believe the change will save money in other social services areas.

The bill unanimously passed the Senate and is expected to pass the House within the next couple of weeks.


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Alexia Nechayev

FYS Events & Meeting Chair
(Palm Beach)

Hello, My name is Alexia Nechayev. I am 25 years old and I am an alumna of Florida International University where I received my B.A. in Psychology. My future career goal is to be a Lawyer. I was in care for about one year from age 17 to 18. Prior to entering care, I only knew about the negative stigma regarding foster care and while in care that narrative was unfortunately my experience.

In school I felt like I was on display because my status in care was broadcast to other students and in my placement behavior was leveraged for “privileges” that should be a natural right of all children. Because I did not know my rights I did not know that what I was experiencing was wrong. Today this is exactly why I advocate, because I don’t want this to be the same for other youth who are experiencing foster care.

This is my second year on the FYS Statewide Board and I’m happy to be the Events and Meetings Chair this year because my main goal through advocacy is to reach as many people as possible. My favorite thing as a board member is to see how comfortable members become while working together. The community needs to know that youth in foster care are real people, going through some of the hardest moments of their life and youth need to know that their voice is powerful. I believe that we have to speak up and bring these issues to people’s attention so that they do not forget us. Advocacy, education and consistency is the only way.

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