The Look in Brief

New law requires Tennessee Children’s Services to cover more kids 18-21 leaving state custody

By: - January 9, 2023 12:57 pm
(Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

A new law taking effect this month requires the Department of Children’s Services to add additional services for kids leaving state custody who are between the ages of 18 and 21.

The law requires DCS to pay low-income relatives of those children stipends set at 50% of the rate paid to foster parents while kids transition from teenagers to adults. Such stipends have previously been available when kids are pursuing an education. The law expands the availability of the stipend for kids who are working.

According to state estimates, more than 400 young adults will be enrolled in the extension-of- foster-care program in its first year. The state has budgeted $3.9 million to pay relatives caring for former foster kids in the program – an average daily rate of about $21 per family.

DCS currently contracts with private providers to manage services for kids aging out of foster care. Those private providers will continue to be responsible for monthly visits, and verifying whether relatives are eligible to take care of former foster kids.

The goal of programs extending services to kids in state custody who would, in the past, lose them at age 18. Kids aging out of foster care with no support are especially vulnerable to financial instability, homelessness, human trafficking and committing crimes.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported all stipends were newly available; stipends have been previously available to caregivers of former foster kids pursuing an education. 

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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism. Wadhwani lives in Nashville with her partner and two children.

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