Health Care Coverage for Former Foster Care

Young adults who were covered by DCFS Medical when they left foster care at age 18 or later are eligible for Illinois Medicaid coverage up until age 26 regardless of income.

Who is Eligible

  • Young adults between the ages of 19 and 25 who were in foster care and who received DCFS Medical coverage until they exited foster care at age 18 or older; or 
  • Must be ineligible for medical benefits under Family Health Plans or Aid to Aged, Blind, and Disabled Medical 


  • Are an Illinois resident
  • Have a Social Security number or have applied for one
  • Are a U.S. citizen (some legal immigration classifications also qualify).

Why Apply

  • Persons who are eligible for Former Foster Care receive health insurance coverage for medical and dental exams, immunizations, prescriptions, and hospital care.
  • DCFS Medical does not charge premiums or co-pays for medical treatment.

To Apply For

  • DCFS notifies Illinois Medicaid of all children who age out of the DCFS Medical program. Illinois Medicaid will handle the transition to Former Foster Care coverage.
  • Young adults can also apply for Former Foster Care coverage through the Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE).

Read More

"Foster care" is defined as 24-hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardians and for whom the [state or tribal] agency has placement and care responsibility. This includes, but is not limited to, placements in foster family homes, foster homes of relatives, group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities, child care institutions, and pre-adoptive homes. A child is in foster care in accordance with this definition regardless of whether the foster care facility is licensed and payments are made by the state, tribal, or local agency for the care of the child, whether adoption subsidy payments are being made prior to the finalization of an adoption, or whether there is federal matching of any payments that are made. Receipt of foster care maintenance payments is not required for a child to be considered "in foster care" under this definition. Thus, children placed with a relative or in another non-licensed out-of-home placement with respect to whom foster care maintenance payments are not being provided may be considered to be “in foster care” according to this definition if they are also under the placement and care of the state or tribal agency.

For youth who have spent time in foster care, access to health and mental health services is of critical importance and can make a difference in their successful transition to adulthood. Research confirms that youth who have aged out of foster care face multiple health risks and highlights the importance of high-quality health and mental health services to address the lingering impact of trauma into adulthood. Recent analysis of data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being further confirms that youth who have been referred to child welfare have higher than average adverse childhood experiences that directly correlate with future health challenges.

Links to Important Resources

Medicaid to 26 for Youth in Foster Care: Key Steps for Advocates

Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE)

National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being (NSCAW), No. 20: Adverse Child Experiences in NSCAW

Topics: Medicaid, Public Insurance Coverage, Foster Care
Tags: Medicaid, Healthcare Coverage, Foster Care, Youth in Transition
Last updated September 20, 2016

« Back to browsing

Share this page

Sponsored by

  • Lloyd A. Fry Foundation
  • Boston Medical Center