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Planning for Your Future

Becoming a successful adult takes planning and support from many people including family, mentors, your case planner and your peers.

ACS can help by working with your case planner and your foster care agency to make sure you have the information and the resources to succeed.

Preparing to Leave Foster Care

Once you reach age 18, your foster care agency must obtain your written consent to remain in care. You can choose to stay in care until your 21st birthday and continue to work with your agency towards your discharge from care.

Every six months, your agency will schedule a Family Team Conference to help you review your plan. It is important to make sure you attend each conference, and you can bring anyone you want to support you at the meeting.

If you decide to leave foster care before your 21st birthday, you and your case planner must have a transition plan in place that addresses emergency housing, income support, and identifies a support network in your community.

Know Before You Go

  • Connect to employment services and/or educational programs.
  • Make sure you have proper documentation and immigration status before you turn 21 including your birth certificate, Social Security Card, New York State/New York City ID.
  • Get a copy of your credit report.
  • Get your high school diploma, GED, vocational training and apply for/or attend college.
  • Get a list of public hospitals and clinics where you can obtain low cost health and dental services. Learn more
  • Obtain a copy of your medical records. Your records should contain information about all medical care you received while in ACS care including:
    • The name, phone number and address for your primary physician while in care.
    • Copy of your complete medical history.
    • The name, phone number and address of any other doctor or medical facility from which you received on-going medical treatment.

Keep this information in a safe place with all other important personal documents.

Before You Leave Foster Care

If your permanency goal is Another Permanent Planned Living Arrangement (APPLA+), in addition to all the information above, your agency should help you:

  • Identify your “significant adult(s)” or permanent adult connection. Tell your caseworker about anyone whom you would feel comfortable calling on for help after you are out of foster care.
  • Complete housing applications before you turn 21 or leave foster care, so you can access housing priority for young people leaving foster care through the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) or another supportive housing program.
  • Apply for Medicaid benefits, and ensure that you are moved to transitional Medicaid while you wait for your own Medicaid coverage to begin.
  • Apply for public assistance and/or SSI benefits, if you are eligible, and if you need it.
  • Identify household or other items that you may need (for example, sheets, towels, dishes, cookware) and apply for an ACS discharge grant to cover the cost of these items (up to $1000 per person).

You can always talk to your agency case planner or your attorney if you have questions about transitioning from care and the support and services you may need.

Trial Discharge From Care

Going out on your own can be scary and difficult. Youth ages 18-21 who leave care typically receive a trial discharge period of up to six months, to provide you with a safety net as you transition out of care. During the trial discharge, ACS and your agency will continue to offer you services where needed, and you have flexibility to return to foster care during your trial discharge period.

Before trial discharge, your agency and ACS will schedule a Family Team Conference to review your plan and make sure you have everything in place to be successful. Your case planner must also:

  • Notify you in writing about your discharge date;
  • Identify people and services that can help you when you leave foster care;
  • Submit a request for furniture and other supplies if needed.

Getting Help or Returning to Care

If you are discharged between the ages of 18 and 21, you can still get help when you need it.

ACS’s Older Youth Services unit will work to stay in contact with you until you reach age 21, and you can contact the unit for help by emailing

If you did not give your written consent to remain in care after reaching age 18 and you were final discharged, you may be able to return to care for up to two years after leaving. If you now have a compelling reason to return to care, ACS has a process in place to help you re-enter.

You can contact your former foster parent or foster care agency, your former attorney, or email ACS at to receive help.


Education and Career Planning
Birth Certificate