Can a Child Stay in Foster Care After Turning 18?

Growing Up, Aging Out

Foster care is a temporary placement option for children whose parents are unable to properly care for them. In most cases, the child is in foster care short-term and will either return to his or her parents or be adopted. Foster care is not an appropriate permanent home in which a child should grow to adulthood. Nevertheless, many children foster care turn 18 and age out of the system but are unable to support themselves fully. Without the support of the foster care system, it is very difficult for children to transition into adulthood self-sufficiently.

The Support Gap

Youth in foster care who age out of the system often struggle significantly with finding housing, employment, and medical care. Suddenly, these children leave a system of support and become an adult by age. In many cases, they lose access to the benefits they received through the foster care system, such as medical care, life skills training, and educational support.

Closing the Gap

To better help foster care youth with their transition into adulthood, New Jersey, among other states, has extended the aging out point for youth in foster care from 18 to 21. While children can age out of care at 18 if they are able to do so, youth between the ages of 18 and 21 can continue to receive support and resources from the foster care system if they need them. And, youths who struggle to live independently after turning 18 can return to the foster care system for support as long as they not yet 21.

If your child is in foster care, you likely have some concerns. At this time, it is important that you know and understand your rights and your role as your child is in foster care. Speak with an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney if you have any questions or concerns about foster care. Staying involved in your child’s life, being concerned about his or her safety, and exercising all your rights are important components of this process and can help you get your child returned to you. An attorney can inform you of your rights and responsibilities as a parent with a child in foster care and help you take the steps you need to make sure your child’s best interests are protected.

Do you have questions about the foster care system? If so, the Williams Law Group, LLC is here to inform you of your rights and responsibilities with a child in foster care. Located in Union, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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