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What does it mean to “age out” of the foster care system?

At age 18, foster youth are no longer in state custody. Funding for daily support is terminated. This is also referred to as emancipation. 


While in state custody (in the foster care system), if teens are not living with a foster family, where might they be living before emancipation?

Other teens live in group homes, with relatives, in rehabilitation facilities, county facilities, or are referred to an independent living program. 


What is an independent living program?

An independent living program is a group housing or single apartment living situation that provides supervised life skills training for teens transitioning from foster care to independent living. Teens are referred to the programs by county case workers. It is a jump-start for teens who want and need support. 


Who does Fill This House help?

We help the teens who do not have the support of a family and are in need of household items due to a lack of belongings. Some are in independent living programs and others are living on their own.


How does Fill This House get the names of teens who need help?

In most cases, we get referrals from private or public child service agencies and social workers. We also hear from school representatives who are aware of situations involving foster teens in need of support. 



What happens to Cuyahoga County foster teens who “age out”?

The numbers vary, but in a single week where approximately 11 teens might be emancipated, two might return to a birth parent. Three might move in with relatives. Three might be in the adoption process. One might be leaving an independent living program. Two might end up on the streets. Of the eleven, three are on their own without support, frightened, and in need of support. 



With very few belongings, if any, how do transitioning teens set up a household?

It isn’t easy. That’s why Fill This House provides all the necessary household items for teens to get through each day – dishes, blankets, pillows, towels, sheets, pots and pans, etc. We provide new items that are delivered to the teens on their move-in day, these items are theirs to keep.


How do foster teens without family support find places to live? Where do they go?

Those in independent living programs receive assistance in finding housing. Some teens get assistance from their county social workers. While others go to shelters, some end up homeless and others disappear and their whereabouts are unknown. 


Why does Fill This House accept only brand new items?

We serve teens who have endured a difficult time in foster care, having experienced very little support or nurturing. They have moved from house to house and facility to facility, experiencing neglect and often abuse. Second-hand items are all they have known. Possessions are few, if any at all. The ownership of new 
possessions can have a profoundly positive effect on young people who have only utilized second-hand belongings. We feel that receiving these new items makes them feel worthy and appreciated.


Does Fill This House take furniture donations?

We are unable to accept furniture donations. We refer donors to The Cleveland Furniture Bank. 216.459.2265 or They will pick up! Many newly emancipated teens utilize this wonderful resource. 



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