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What Happens When A Child Turns 18 While In Care

If you are currently fostering a child or teenager, you might be concerned about what is going to happen to them when they reach the age of 18 and become a legal adult. Therefore, here is a short guide that contains everything that you need to know if your foster child is approaching the age in question. 

What happens when a child reaches 18?

When the child in question reaches 18, they will automatically age out of the foster care system, and this can be especially difficult for those who have been unable to find a foster placement before then. They will have help in making the transition between foster care and independent living. However, many teenagers find this incredibly difficult, and struggle to find somewhere to live or work once they have reached the age of 18, especially if they have not developed the right skills, or if they have moved around a lot during their youth.

Can they continue to live with you?

Fostering a teen can be a challenging but rewarding experience. If both you and your foster child both want them to remain living with you when they reach the age of 18, that is possible, and you will be able to work with your local authority to enable this to happen. You and your foster child will be able to get support throughout this transition, and there will usually be a review meeting where you can discuss the options that can be presented to your foster child on their 18th birthday. Whatever you decide, though, you should make sure that this decision is taken long before they reach the age of 18.  To get the support that you need, you should speak to a foster agency like  

What about adoption?

One of the routes that you can take when your foster child reaches the age of 18 is that you may be able to adopt them, if their birth family agrees to this or do not have contact with the child in question. Adoption can make it easier to stay a part of your foster child’s life once they reach the age of 18 and will make the legalities of this much simpler. Adopting your foster child will ensure that they can always remain a permanent part of your life and will ensure that all of their post-18 decisions are led by both you and the foster child, rather than any local authorities. 

Making the transition from foster care to independence can be difficult for every single foster child. However, as a foster carer, you will be able to support them through the worst of this, ensuring that they can plan accordingly for a place to call home and a job in the future, even if they will not be living with you anymore. There is no reason why they cannot continue to live with you, though, if this is what both of you wish, as there is no law that suggests that there is an end to when you have to stop providing care for them.

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