Network Aims to Help Aging Out Youth

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The National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices last month named seven states to participate in a new Learning Network aimed at improving outcomes for youth who age out of foster care.

The states are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and North Carolina.

The network plans to meet twice a year, with each state represented by three participants, including gubernatorial staff members, state policymakers and key stakeholders in their child welfare systems. The network will also conduct webcasts and conference calls.

The network hopes the process will increase knowledge about the best ways to help former foster children achieve self-reliance.

Child welfare officials estimate that about 20,000 youths age out of foster care each year. Studies have shown that those youth struggle with education, employment and homelessness more often than other young adults.

The Learning Network is designed to provide a forum for sharing information and strategies to abate address those problems. Among other activities, the network will examine research, promising practices and various state policy options to assist youth who age out of foster care.

The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative will fund travel costs for the network meetings.