In 2008, then-U.S. President George W. Bush pledged federal money to all states that would extend foster care to age 21, a move that was heralded as “the most significant child welfare reform legislation in more than a decade.”
Since than, at least 25 states have expanded support for these vulnerable children. In Illinois, one of the first states to do so, academic studies have found lengthening care until 21 (compared to states that did not) led to drastic decreases in homelessness, teenage pregnancy and unemployment, and vast improvements in high school and post-secondary achievements.
The challenges facing the foster care systems in America and British Columbia are not identical, of course, because Canada’s social services — such as access to welfare, medicare and subsidized housing — are generally much better than in the U.S.
But what many of these states have, which B.C. does not, is consistent support workers to guide youth through their early adult years.