Eric Usher dreams of working as an audio producer, driving his friends around in a Maserati and living by the beach.
But most importantly, Usher says, he looks forward to being independent.
“I won’t have any system support, and I’ll be living on my own,” is how he describes it.
For now, Usher must content himself with a spare ground-floor apartment a few miles from downtown L.A.
At 19, he is learning to be independent by trial and error. He recently racked up almost $700 in cable and Internet bills — the result of confusing pricing and unexpected charges.
Usher has been in the foster system since he was 8. He doesn’t have parents who can bail him out or guide him smoothly into adulthood.
But unlike most foster youths of the past, he’s able to get help from the Department of Children and Family Services until he turns 21, thanks to a state program called extended foster care, which began in 2012.
Although the program’s success has been uneven, the vast majority of eligible teenagers — about 80% in L.A. County — choose to remain in care.