By Philip Thomas, Education Voices student

What do foster care youth do after they turn eighteen?

In Oakland there are many nonprofits and city organizations that work on this issue, and some youth in foster care use those resources.

But that doesn’t make it easier. Turning 18 while in foster care with no support system is a challenge, many foster care youth say.

“Some staff were cool and most staff weren’t cool. They were unfair with not treating us right,” said Zim, a former foster youth who preferred not to publish his full name.

Roger, a twenty-two-year-old living the in Bay Area who preferred not to have his last name public, said that he was forced to go to a shelter, “with no help from my social worker.”

Each year, according to the Child Welfare League of America, approximately 20,000-25,000 youth age out of foster care. In the Bay Area, there are approximately 600 foster youth, said Claudia Miller, Director of Foundation and Corporate Investments for First Place for Youth.

Miller said that after they turn 18, some foster youth stay in foster care, some go to college, some go back to family and some become homeless. A big challenge for foster youth is not knowing basic living skills, such as money management, cooking, and searching for a job.

From experience, I can say some youth should go to some of the programs that the county offers while being in foster care, such as First Place for Youth. Also, social workers play a big part in helping foster youth with emancipation.


Phillip Thomas is one of our student reporters.  This story and the entire Education Voices series were made possible through the support of The California Endowment. Our student reporters for this series are participants in programs at Urban Peace Movement. Our lead trainer in the Education Voices project is Irene Florez of Oakland Local staff and our staff reporters are Barbara Grady and Jon Leckie. Many thanks to the Endowment and UPM for the support of this program, and to our wonderful coaches, trainers and student reporters.

Follow the entire series” title=”HERE” target=”_blank”>here:

See our earlier California Endowment supported reporting package at