Sen. Louis P. DiPalma’s (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) legislation (2018-S 2022) that would create a young adult voluntary extension of care program to extend the age of foster care from age 18 to age 21 was heard by the Senate Committee on Judiciary last night.  The program would offer a range of programs and services to ensure successful transitions to independence and adulthood for young adults in foster care.

“This bill gives our kids in foster care the best possible shot to become happy, functional, and productive adults in our society because the data clearly demonstrates that without this program, these kids face tremendous obstacles toward adulthood.  These children deserve a fair shot in life.  They did not ask for the hardships they have suffered during childhood, and this program can provide the safety net so many of them desperately need,” said Senator DiPalma.

Rhode Island previously offered extended care to foster children up to 21 years old but the program was scaled back to 18 years old in 2007.

The legislation calls for a voluntary, age appropriate, court-supervised program of services and resources to be implemented and the proposal is specifically designed for young adults to maximize their self-determination and support their movement toward self-sufficiency.  The bill does not hold young adults in the same system that they were in as children, but incorporates national best practice to meet their needs as emerging young adults.

Twenty-four states including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Nebraska, Ohio, and California have extended their systems of care to 21 with similar initiatives.

Rep. Deborah L. Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) has introduced the legislation (2018-H 7110) in the House of Representatives.