OLYMPIA —Gov. Jay Inslee approved legislation today to make certain foster care services available through age 21, offering additional support during the critical years of transition from foster care to independent living.

“Just because someone’s aging out of foster care doesn’t mean they’re instantly ready to make what might be the most challenging transition of their life,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the bill’s sponsor. “In case after case – and the data backs it up – a little extra support during these trying years can determine whether someone succeeds at making it on their own.”

SB 5908 directs the state Dept. of Children, Youth & Families to provide information to youths aging out of traditional foster care on benefits, eligibility criteria, and incentives; removes the program’s current eligibility screening requirements to facilitate greater enrollment; and creates an incentive program that promotes education and employment.

“Traditional foster care helps many, many youths navigate some very vulnerable years,” Wilson said, “but that vulnerability doesn’t necessarily vanish just because you turn a certain age. Providing a little extra support for a few more years is a pretty inexpensive way to protect the state’s investment and help someone soar instead of struggle.”