Extended Foster Care – What is it, and how is it helping youth

Submitted by beda?chelh Leadership

When beda?chelh youth are set to turn 18 and age out of foster care, they become eligible for a voluntary program offered by the State of Washington called Extended Foster Care (EFC). This collaborative partnership between the Tribes and the State ensures youth aging out of foster care are able to transition to independence at their own pace. While this could look different for each youth, the idea is to help them successfully transition to independence and self-sufficiency.

Youth who participate in EFC can choose to remain with their placement until age 21 or choose a different independent living option while continuing to receive support services that would typically end when they turn 18. These services can help youth successfully transition to independence. Support services include:

  • A monthly stipend to help towards living expenses
  • Support with placement options, such as Independent Living
  • Transition planning support
  • Accessing community resources 
  • Help locating service providers and setting up appointments
  • Resume building and job searches

Youth can focus on finishing high school, entering college, learning a trade, entering employment, or any activity that helps to remove barriers to independence. Youth in EFC are also responsible to stay in contact with their social worker monthly. To be eligible for EFC, youth must engage in one of the participation requirements. These include actively working on at least one of the following categories:

  • Enrolled in high school or GED program
  • Applied for or enroll in college or a vocational program;
  • Participation in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment;
  • Working 80 hours or more a month

While participants can remain in EFC the entire time from ages 18-21 years old participation in the program is flexible, allowing youth to enter and exit as needed until age 21. This allows particiapnts to receive assistance in a manner that meets their individual needs. beda?chelh has been excited to see the progressive growth of the EFC program with 18 youth currently enrolled in EFC.