Transitioning From Foster Care to Adult Care

Once a youth in foster care turns 18, they become their own medical consenter. Whether they choose to stay in extended foster care or to age out, they are given control of their own medical and behavioral health decisions. Often, though, they haven’t been involved in making these decisions for themselves and don’t have the information needed to make informed decisions.

To raise awareness about this important transition, the team at the Rees-Jones Center for Foster Care Excellence is working with other community agencies to advocate for providing information and assistance to teens in foster care who are about to turn 18. Our goal is to enable them to learn about their diagnoses, medications and treatment plans so that they can manage their care as an adult.

How to help a youth transition from foster care

  • Age 14. Work with the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) caseworker to get copies of the youth’s birth certificate and Social Security card and, if applicable, to verify their citizenship status. If the youth is undocumented, talk with the DFPS caseworker about applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SJIS) with assistance from the Child Protective Services (CPS) Immigration Specialist.
  • Age 15/16. Apply for a Texas ID (DFPS can complete a waiver for the Texas ID fee) and complete a driver’s education course. Participate and complete Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) courses and ask for a referral for a DFPS circle of support meeting/transition planning meeting to discuss the youth’s plans and supports for their future.
  • A month before age 18. The youth must complete an extended foster care agreement if they wish to remain in foster care. They must also complete an application for Supervised Independent Living/Transitional Living if they are not in a foster home that is able to keep them past age 18. To qualify for extended foster care, a youth must be in a paid placement such as a foster home. Unlicensed kinship homes aren’t eligible as placements for extended foster care.
  • Age 18. The youth should have all their legal documents (birth certificate, Social Security card, driver’s license or state ID, etc.). The tuition and fee waiver letter can only be requested from the PAL worker if the youth has turned 18 and/or graduated from high school. If they have graduated early from high school, the tuition and fee waiver letter can be requested at that time.
    Verifying immigration status is very important if the youth choses to leave foster care. If they haven’t received their green card/work permit, a copy of their immigration application/tracking number should be requested from the DFPS Immigration Specialist to ensure they stay aware of their immigration case.

Resources to empower young adults when making their own care decisions

Transitioning from foster care resources

Other resources

Getting involved after foster care