Support growing to extend foster care until age 21

Deisera Sharp says aging out of foster care was a scary experience. (FOX19)
Deisera Sharp says aging out of foster care was a scary experience. (FOX19)

(FOX19) - A proposal to extend foster care until the age of 21 is gaining traction in Ohio.

Kids currently age out of the system at 18, but social workers, and children's advocacy groups say that can be a difficult transition.

Many adolescents aging out of the foster care system find themselves homeless, in trouble with the law and jobless.

"Being 18 and aging out of foster care is one of the scariest situations to ever be in," Deisera Sharp, a former foster child, says.

Deisera says she just didn't have the life skills to make it on her own and she's not alone. Tim Rylance says aging out of the system has been a difficult transition.

"I've gone through a lot being emancipated. You know, homelessness, drugs, hanging out with the wrong crowd, being in trouble, having to get things expunged off my record. Things get crazy when you're just kind of booted out the door," Tim told FOX19's Gordan Graham.

There are about 850 foster children in Hamilton County and nearly 13,000 across the state. Every year about 1,000 of them age out of the system.

FOX19 asked Hamilton County Job and Family Services Director Moira Weir what's in store for a child who stays in foster care longer.

"If you think about extending the age you also want  to think about programming so maybe they won't stay in a foster home. It's getting them in scattered sites and helping them wrap services around to help them as they learn independence and achieve independence themselves," Weir says.

"My foster family that I live with is really good and she's taught me a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff that I need for when I live in my own apartment so I think I'm ready," says Lakasia Williams, who recently turned 18,

The proposal to extend foster care from age 18 to age 21 is House Bill 423 and its goal is to prepare foster kids for life.

Supporters are hoping the bill will gain some traction during the next legislative session.

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