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Aging Out of Foster Care Brings High Risk of Homelessness; HB 424 Seeks to Raise Emancipation Age

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Aging out of the foster care system instead of finding a permanent home dramatically increases risk of homelessness in the first year of emancipation.

Children raised in households with intact families often have the luxury of growing into independence.  But an eighteen-year-old in foster care has reached the age of emancipation, and instant freedom can often spell disaster for a child – particularly in the first year. 

North Carolina House Bill 424, entitled Fostering Success, would raise the age of emancipation from 18 to 19. 

Liz Kachris-Jones, District Administrator of Guardian Ad Litem in New Hanover and Pender Counties, says children who age out of the system versus those who find a permanent home are much more likely to become homeless in their first year. 

"They’re most likely to be the victim of a crime their first year out.  They’re most likely to be in need of mental health services, unemployment services, to be a teen parent.  There are so many things that come up for our youth who don’t get that permanent caregiver and permanent support system that the programs that are now evolving around that in terms of independent living are crucial for their success into adulthood."

One of those programs in New Hanover County, Links, provides resources and guidance to kids before and after eighteen.  House Bill 424, which not only raises the age of emancipation – but also mandates funding for an additional year of services, has passed its first reading in the House and is now before the Appropriations Committee. 

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To hear the edition of CoastLine that focused on foster care, follow this link: 

http://whqr.org/post/coastline-foster-care-new-hanover-county

There, you can also find information on becoming a foster parent or a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer.  The re-broadcast of CoastLine happens at 1 PM on Saturday.