Seeking Solutions for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care


Youth aging out of foster care do not fare as well as their same-aged peers. Frequent exposure to trauma and adversity stresses executive functioning skills most needed to perform essential life skills that set the foundation for self-sufficiency and independence. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, youth who are aging out of care are at increased risk for a variety of adverse outcomes, including homelessness/unstable housing, unemployment, low educational attainment, higher prevalence of poor health status, sexual and physical victimization, and incarceration.

Children’s Wisconsin’s Institute for Child and Family Well-being and its collaborative partners were awarded planning grant from the Oshkosh Area Community Fund to facilitate a community assessment to delineate the causes of poor outcomes for youth 18-24 years of age who are aging out of foster care and to identify solutions. The assessment will help us gain a greater understanding of the risk factors and future difficulties that young adults in the region face when leaving the foster care system. These youth are often left on their own to navigate the transition to adulthood, and in the absence of strong, stable connections with parents or extended family members, there is no safety net to support them.

Children’s will convene key stakeholders, including but not limited to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, and Bay Area Workforce Development Board to collect and assess information about the extent of the challenges facing this population. The assessment will include surveying the region’s strengths, resources, needs and gaps as they relate to the population of youth transitioning to adulthood. The assessment findings will provide a foundational framework that we will use for exploring existing service delivery models, such as Youth Villages LifeSet and/or developing a tailored intervention(s) to meet the unique needs of the target population. Through these collective efforts, our long-term goal is to provide a pathway to independence by strengthening youths’ resiliency and equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to become self-sufficient, build a strong support network, achieve educational and/or job training goals to earn a living wage, and maintain safe and stable housing.


Luke Waldo
Johanna Nelson (ICFW Intern)


Oshkosh Area Community Foundation


Bay Area Workforce Development Board

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Audrey Burghardt – Freespace Innovation

All Child & Family Well-Being