Of the 2,000 children in District foster care, fully 59 percent are older youth and young adults, ages 12 to 21. CFSA has two critical obligations to these young people.
- Everyone needs and deserves a family. The first obligation is to find permanent homes with care people for youth in care through reunification with their birth families, legal guardianship (often with relatives), or adoption. At the very least, every young person in care should have a relationship with a caring adult committed to providing life-long guidance and support. Rekindling family or forging new, lasting relationships for these young people is critical since agency support ends for them at age 21.
- While these young people remain in foster care, CFSA has an obligation to prepare them for adulthood. Although a public agency can never be the optimum parent, these young people are growing up in the child welfare system. Along with the same developmental needs as all modern teens, youth in foster care face a host of special challenges through no fault of their own. These young people especially need and deserve quality nurturing, guidance, and support and all the same opportunities good parents provide for their own children.
CFSA’s Office of Youth Empowerment (OYE) provides a host of programs and growth experiences for District teens and young adults in foster care. In partnership with social workers, foster caregivers, and the community, OYE’s goals are to teach, train, and guide these young people—and ultimately to help each one begin to recognize and develop his/her unique potential.