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Governor extends benefits to foster kids who "age out"

Governor Rick Snyder signed a law today to extend benefits for children who grew up in foster care after they turn 18 years old. The new law will allow foster kids to continue to receive a housing subsidy and health coverage until the age of 21, and to continue to work with foster care caseworkers.

The extended benefits will be available to young adults who are enrolled in college or job training, or working at least 80 hours a month.

The governor says Michigan owes it to children who would otherwise lose their support system when they become legal adults.

“You think about where they need to go in terms of future training, of preparing for a career, of going off to, hopefully, college or a skilled trade, just to say they turn 18 and they fall out of our system was not an appropriate answer,” Snyder said.

Anthony Ashman is a former foster kid who is now a sophomore at Western Michigan University. He says the continued housing subsidy and health coverage are helpful, but so is a continued relationship with people who work in the foster care system.

“If you bond with your caseworker, that’s going to be beneficial to helping you stay motivated to do well in school, and it’s going to give you a greater self-esteem to know somebody’s there that you can call and tell about your success,” Ashman said.

Michigan’s program still has to be approved by the federal government. The state promised to do more to help foster children who “age out” of youth homes and foster family subsidies. That was part of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.