Foster care is a lifeline for children in need, but when they become legal adults, most still need help.
Help that's been unavailable to them, until Ohio House Bill 50 passed last June, but whatever happened to it?
Under the bill, the program created what's called the Bridges Program. It increases the age people must leave foster care from age 18 to 21. The goal is to help transition young adults from the foster care system into a life on their own.
For Stephfon Kennedy, he knows first hand how much that help is needed.
“It seems like a lot of us seem like we know everything, think we're adults, think we know how the world works, and I can attest that at 18 I did not know, I thought I was ready, but I wasn't," he said.
When the bill passed, the now 21-year-old had already aged out of the foster care system and was fighting to avoid becoming a statistic. One-third of former foster kids end up homeless and Stephfon has struggled to find his way.
After leaving foster care, he took classes at the University of Akron but didn't finish. After making a few poor choices, he's now feeling like he’s on the upswing of things. He found a place to live and is commuting to Tri-C while juggling a summer internship.
He tells News 5 that, while he won't be able to benefit from The Bridges Program, he hopes it'll help other young adults just like him get on the right path.
“At 18 a lot of people basically say 'yo I'm out of here, I'm never coming back.' And this will give them the option after maybe they bump their head on their own, they can come back and it still is opportunity for them," he said.
So far, no one has been able to take advantage of the program, because the final details are still being worked out.
The state is expected to roll out a grant request packet for organizations within the coming months.
Once that is available, foster programs that receive the money will be allowed to keep kids in their foster homes until the age of 21 and offer them help like job and housing placement.