Transitioning out of Care: An International Comparison on Aging out of Foster Care

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:18 AM
Room: Booth 64
Oral Presentation
Casey ALBITZ , Case Western Reserve University
Brian GRAN , Case Western Reserve University
Aging is a universal phenomenon of life yet it is not universal in experience.  While aging is often perceived as the natural progression through life stages, the societal consequences for these transitions are socially constructed and culturally specific, with particular ages carrying with them varying freedoms, expectations, and restrictions.  Some demarcations are fairly widespread in their range of international acceptance, yet others are more variable - such as age of retirement and marriageable age.  For foster children who are supported within state care, the significance of the cultural link of the age of majority, the age that children become adults by law, carries especially weighty consequences: forcing them to exit the foster care system.  This often involves cutting off much needed resources and supports from these already disadvantaged individuals, which may help to explain the high rates of homelessness, incarceration, unemployment, and poor mental and physical health found within this vulnerable population.  This research compares how Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries manage the transition of young people from state care.  National and state legislation designating services received both before and after children become adults are examined along with specific programs and efforts aimed at easing the transition from ‘foster child’ to ‘independent adult’.  Comparison on this scale shows massive gaps in national transitioning programs for this population, yet offers the opportunity for cross-country discussion of policy arrangements.  This research will enlighten scholarship on the complex relationships between governments and the life course, including how governments succeed and fail at overcoming gaps in life course transitions.  Questions pertaining to the importance of using a set age of majority are then discussed and the need for program outcome measures is brought to center stage.