Ex-foster children need assistance

About a thousand Ohioans “age out” of the state’s foster care network every year. A substantial number are not ready for that.

Once young men and women reach 18 years of age, the foster care system is done with them – even if they have lived most of their lives under it. That sudden separation can mean some have problems adjusting to fully independent life.

State legislators are moving forward with a bill that would extend to 21 the age at which the foster care program can provide some services. Those benefiting from the change would have to meet certain requirements for education and work.

Obviously, increasing the age limit would have to be handled carefully and realistically. No one wants to create a whole new class of young men and women who, in effect, become addicted to assistance provided by the state. Services should be geared toward helping former foster children become independent.

There will be a cost to provide continuing foster care services, of course. But the choice amounts in some cases to paying a few dollars now – or allowing a substantial number of emotionally and economically vulnerable young adults to become dependent on social services for much of their lives.