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What financial support or services are given to foster children who age out of the system?

Pressley Baird
Foster care

More information about foster care is available at the N.C. Division of Social Services website.

Starting at age 12, youth in North Carolina’s foster care system get support through the LINKS program, which is intended to help prepare them for life beyond high school, said Brian Bocnuk, foster care services manager for the New Hanover County Department of Social Services. Social workers evaluate foster children through a life skills inventory when they enter into the LINKS program.

“That gives us a good feel for what their life skill level is and what the social workers need to do to help them,” he said. “It could be as simple as learning how to write a check, going shopping, learning how to take care of your own house.”

Many youth who age out of the program go into a Contractual Agreement for Residential Services, or CARS, agreement with the state. The agreement allows the youth to stay in their foster care home and receive state support while they’re working toward finishing high school, Bocnuk said.

“A lot of foster kids come into the program behind, so they may not be finishing high school when they’re 18,” Bocnuk said. “It’s a catch-up scenario.”

A CARS agreement gives youth a “slew of information and financial support,” including help applying to and paying for college in the state, Bocnuk said.

“If they can get into a North Carolina school, they don’t have to worry about the finance part of it,” he said.

Youth that age out of the system at age 18 and aren’t in a CARS agreement are still eligible for certain LINKS services, such as funding to help them pay rent, until they’re 21. After that, foster care youth who need help would apply directly to the Department of Social Services, Bocnuk said.

User-contributed question by:
mary henderson

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