New legislation helps teens aging out of foster care transition to adulthood

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Governor John Kasich is expected to sign off on new legislation that will help teens who are aging out of foster care become more successful adults.

Right now, when foster children turn 18 they face a sharp cut-off of resources and support, resulting in many of them becoming homeless. This new legislation would extend support services until age 21.

“Where is home? That was my biggest issue,” says 22-year-old Romero Triplett.

He was emancipated out of the foster care system when he was 17.

“A lot of kids are out there struggling because they get into the system and then they like collapse, after 18,” says Triplett.

He’s been through homelessness with no family and no support, just like 19-year-old Ticoshuen Swanson.

“I slept in a car. I slept in a tent. I slept in many places that I didn’t want to, but I had to because I wasn’t about to sleep on the ground,”she says. “I didn’t have nowhere to go.”

Despite Swanson working two jobs and Triplett just getting into his own apartment they still need the OSU Star House. It’s a place for homeless youth to get the essentials, like a hot meal and a shower.

But, a bill passed by the Ohio Senate aims to make the transition from foster care to adulthood easier by extending support services to age 21.

OSU FOSTER CARE“I was definitely not ready at 18,” says 23-year-old Michael Outrich.

He’s also a former foster child. He just graduated from Ohio University and will be a graduate student at OSU in the fall.

“I did not have the skills to be a self-sufficient independent adult at that age. I just didn’t,” says Outrich.

He told his story at the Statehouse.

“I basically shared a little bit about, regards to if I had the support through the age 21, how I wouldn’t have ended up homeless, how I wouldn’t have had not as great grades at the beginning, how I wouldn’t have struggled nearly as much,” says Outrich.

He’s too old to benefit from the new legislation now, but he’s glad someone else will.

“They don’t have to worry about that because they’ll have a mentor,” he says. “They’ll have support.”

The Ohio Fostering Connections says about 3,000 young adults could benefit from this program in Ohio. It’s a voluntary program that requires participants to be working or in school to qualify. There is no set budget, but costs are estimated to be around $12 million per year. Two-thirds of the program is federally funded, the rest comes from the state.

The Ohio Senate unanimously passed the bill yesterday.

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