Act 91 FAQs: Staying in Care Past Age 18 and the Rights of Legal Adults

This FAQ represents the interpretation of Juvenile Law Center. We will update this FAQ as we learn new information, so please check back frequently for updates. For more information, please contact Jenny Pokempner at Juvenile Law Center at (215) 625-0551, ext. 111., or [email protected].

Do young adults who remain in the child welfare system past age 18 or re-enter the system between ages 18 and 21 still retain all the rights of an adult?

Yes. Like many young adults who remain in the home and rely on the care of their parents, a dependent 18-year-old retains all the legal rights of an adult. For example, he or she can vote, make all his or her own health care decisions, and decide who gets to see his or her health records, etc. That the young adult has these rights does not mean that he or she does not benefit from—and usually want—the input and guidance of caring adults. The child welfare system should make all efforts to respect and acknowledge the adult status of the young person while also balancing the obligation to provide him or her with treatment and care.