This report, issued by Juvenile Law Center and Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, shows that Pennsylvania can provide stronger support to older foster youth, encourage adoption and save money by implementing common-sense changes to its foster care policies.
Of the more than 2,300 children adopted from foster care in Pennsylvania in 2010, only 9 percent were ages 13 and older. Less than 40 percent of the 900 children who attained permanency through legal guardianship that year were 13 and older, even though teenagers represented half the children in foster care.
The report shows that if Pennsylvania implements all policy options of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008—including extending adoption and guardianship subsidies, extending foster care services to age 21 and allowing youth to re-enter foster care until age 21—and if it realizes the expected reduction in foster care placement, the state and its counties will save more than $5.5 million in FY 2012-13 and $26.3 million in FY 2016-17. Pennsylvania's reduced investment will yield $15.7 million in additional federal support in the next fiscal year alone.
Additionally, a permanent family achieved through adoption or guardianship can provide youth with critically important ongoing relationships and support, leading to increased high school graduation rates, college enrollment, self-esteem, and physical and mental health.