In California, if you’re in foster care at age 18, you have the option to stay in foster care until age 21. Even if you leave foster care, then change your mind, you may have the option to go back into foster care until you reach 21.

Assembly Bill 12

Assembly Bill 12 (AB12) was signed into law on September 30, 2010 and took effect on January 1, 2012. The law created California’s Extended Foster Care (EFC) Program which allows eligible youth in the child welfare and probation systems to remain in foster care until age 21. Youth may leave extended foster care and later choose to re-enter the program up to age 21.  

Why would someone want to stay in foster care after the age of 18? 

After all, some young people can’t wait to turn 18 so they can get out of the system and live independently. Well, the truth is that independence is difficult! You may start off on your own but find yourself struggling after losing a job, or some other setback. Young adults often need help and support while they get on their feet.

Extended Foster Care

If you left foster care after you turned 18 and you are struggling, find out whether extended foster care can help you. You may be eligible for housing, job training, free transportation vouchers, and all kinds of other things that can help you transition to independence.  

Extended foster care isn’t the same as regular foster care. There are ways that you can live on your own, with a roommate, or with a relative and still qualify for these benefits. Make sure you know your options before you go! 


To remain eligible for California’s Extended Foster Care Program, youth must meet at least one of five participation criteria.  Additionally, AB12 extended Kin Guardianship Assistance Payments (Kin-GAP) and Adoption Assistance Payments (AAP) are available up to age 21 for youth who meet certain eligibility requirements. CLC Peer Advocates can help you navigate several resources, including whether you qualify for re-entry into the foster care system.  

The decision to re-enter foster care can be a tough one. Especially if you had a negative experience in foster care, you may wonder if extended foster care is really for you.

Peer Advocates

That is where our peer advocates come in. CLC’s Peer Advocate Program can match you with a peer who has been in foster care too. Your peer advocate can help you figure out how extended foster care to age 21 works, and whether it will work for you.

AB12 Resources

The following are all great resources to learn more about your options and extended foster care in California.