Aging Out of Foster Care

All her life, Brittany dreamed of going to college and becoming a doctor. As a foster child, she didn’t think these dreams could come true. But she was encouraged by some caring adults to start looking at colleges and to work hard to achieve good grades in high school. Today, Brittany is attending college, and even received a scholarship to help pay for her education. Brittany’s story of leaving the foster care system has just begun, but it’s already a successful one.

Aging out of the foster care system is a huge milestone in your life. This web guide will help connect you with the resources you need to become a successful, independent adult. You already have the most important resource you could have–yourself! With some hard work, planning, and a determined mind, your hopes and dreams for the future can come true, just like Brittany’s.

Never stop believing in yourself. Don’t give up when you make a mistake. Instead, acknowledge that you could have made a better choice and learn from it. No matter what your past, your future is what you make it.

If you need help, the Kids Matter staff can answer your questions or connect you with someone who can. Call us at 414-344-1220.

Turning 18

Turning 18 in foster care may seem overwhelming, but there are quite a few things you can do to make the transition easier. You will need to make sure that you have your birth certificate, social security card, proof of identification and citizen or residency status. You will also need to locate housing and learn to balance rent and other living expenses, such as food and utilities. If you are ready to look for a place to live on your own but aren’t sure where to start, there are programs that can help you through the process. Before you turn 18 it is important to enroll in health insurance as well. In Wisconsin, all young adults ages 18 through 26 who are leaving foster care are eligible for BadgerCare Plus health insurance. BadgerCare Plus is free health insurance with no enrollment period. However, there is no automatic enrollment or re-enrollment process so you must re-enroll each year you wish to receive healthcare under BadgerCare Plus.

Go to your last court date: At your last court date, the judge will hold a hearing and move towards closing your case. It is very important that you go to this hearing. You should make sure to have your birth certificate and social security card, along with proof of identification and citizenship or residency status. You need these things to get a job and get into college. If you haven’t been given these documents, tell your lawyer and speak up before the judge closes your case.

You can attend all court hearings for your case. It is a good idea to attend hearings and keep up-to-date on your case.

Register to vote: Once you turn 18, you can register to vote. You can now register to vote in Wisconsin online here. It is important that you vote and make your voice heard. The leaders who are elected will make decisions that affect how our state and country is run. Learn about candidates and make informed choices by going to Vote Smart.

Register for the Selective Service (Men Only): The Selective Service is a list of names the United States Government can use to draft men into the military during a war. The selective service list has not been used since the 1970s, but you still need to register before age 26. If you do not register, you cannot participate in Federal programs or get federal loans for college. Registration can also be done when you fill out your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for college.

Find out more and register online at Selective Service System.