Spotlight on Extended Foster Care in California

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We are pleased to share with BayLegal friends and partners an extensive, four-part series on the state of extended foster care in California, “Fostering Adults: The State of Care,” published in The Chronicle of Social Change by Karen de Sá, Sara Tiano, and Katarina Sayally. The series presents a closely detailed, critical examination of the resources available to older youth in our state’s foster care system, the often severe barriers to access and retention of services and supports, and the lengths to which young people and their advocates often must go to secure legally-mandated supports for transitions to adulthood among youth who are burdened with disproportionately high rates of homelessness, poverty, exposure to violence, and involvement in the criminal justice system.

The contrast between the intent of Calfornia’s AB12 and other safety net provisions for youth 18-21 in the foster care system, and the reality of closed doors, legal barriers, and ongoing struggle faced by many transition-age foster youth stands as a stark reminder for youth advocates of the magnitude of the work that remains to be done. It also highlights the extraordinary resilience and strength of some of the young adults in this system, and the commitment and skill of the advocates who support them. These include BayLegal clients Joseph Jones, profiled in the first story in the series, client Meritsa, profiled in the final story, and BayLegal Youth Supervising Attorney Lilly Chen, quoted extensively in the fourth story. Also featured are interviews with former BayLegal youth attorneys Brian Blalock and Erin Palacios, along with a number of other youth and youth advocates. We are grateful to Ms. de Sá, Ms. Tiano, and Ms. Sayally, and to The Chronicle of Social Change, for shining this bright light on the vital work of our Youth Justice unit, and on the continuing challenges facing young adults in our state’s foster care system.

The four stories, in order of publication, are: