At the age of 18, foster children can voluntarily consent to stay in the care of the Department of Children and Families. However, in order to receive services from the agency till the age of 21 (and sometimes 23), these youth must be enrolled in a post-secondary educational program, work, or job training program.
In her opinion editorial, DCF Commissioner Joette Katz said that the department struggles with youth who “reject the rules of work, school, and job training and leave state care” at the age of 18.
As someone who has experienced the foster care system, I fully reject the notion that adolescent foster children reject the services of the Department of Children and Families simply because they are not willing to follow rules. Rather, I posit that many of these young adults decline to continue receiving services from a system that many of them view as oppressive because they are desperate for freedom and family.