HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) announced Tuesday that aftercare services for Pennsylvania youth exiting the foster care system will now be eligible until age 23.
The services were previously offered until age 21. The DHS estimates that this extension of services will benefit about 1,500 people in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
This policy change will allow former foster youth access to help them safely and successfully transition to independence and adulthood after they’ve exited the foster care system.
The DHS studied the possibility of extending the services to age 23 after the federal Family First Prevention Services Act gave states the option to do so. The provision is effective as of July 1.
“Every child deserves a safe and healthy environment to grow up, and every person deserves a stable support system to help them transition from childhood to adulthood,” DHS Secretary Teresa Miller said.
The DHS has also extended availability for the Chafee Education and Training Voucher program, also known as Education and Training Grants (ETG) in Pennsylvania to individuals up until their 26th birthday.
The program would provide eligible youth financial support to attend post-secondary education and training classes for up to five years, consecutive or non-consecutive. The previous cutoff was age 23.
Individuals who are in foster care or discharged from foster care on or after age 16 are eligible for ETG, including those who have exited foster care to adoption or permanent legal guardianship. The application is available online.