Easing Transitions: New LA County Court Helps Prep Older Foster Youth for Adulthood

April 06, 2016

by Jeremy Loudenback

After the stocky youth politely greeted his attorney and Judge Margaret Henry, he told the court his days as a cook were over.

Instead, Roger,* an African-American foster youth dressed in an oversized gray t-shirt and a neat pair of jeans, said he thought driving trucks might be the job for him.

“I heard they make a lot of money,” he said. “And I want to find an occupation that I like more than cooking.”

The only problem? Roger still needs to get his driver license.

Like most 19 year-olds, Roger is searching to find his way into a career and a more stable future, but because he’s still in Los Angeles County’s foster care system, he’s required to continue attending dependency court hearings every six months until he turns 21 or opts out.

A new courtroom at the Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park is specifically designed to support older foster youth like Roger. It’s the first courtroom in the state to hear only cases involving “transition-age youth,” those youth between the ages of 18 and 21 who are getting ready to leave the foster care system.