OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee yesterday signed a bill to expand extended foster care eligibility in Washington.

Senate Bill 6222, sponsored by Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, will give young adults access to the Department of Social and Health Services’ Extended Foster Care program until the age of 21. Eligibility is currently capped at age 19.

Young adults would no longer need to have been in foster care at age 18 to use the program and they would be allowed to un-enroll and re-enroll an unlimited amount of times, subject to certain conditions, instead of only once.

“Extending foster care eligibility to 21 has been a bipartisan priority and it’s incredibly important to the quality of life of young people of this state,” Carlyle said. “Each year, about 500 young adults age out of the foster care system and are left to make their way forward without the support networks we take for granted.

“This bill has a modest cost but provides an extraordinary benefit by allowing them to re-enter foster care as their life circumstances change. It’s a smart investment that gives them a safety net letting them better manage the transition to adulthood.”