Katie Couric's Notebook: After Foster Care

For most kids, turning 18 is a real milestone.

Suddenly, they are able to vote, join the military, even get married.

But for teens in the foster care system, turning 18 is a lot more complicated because that's when most "age out" of foster care...and are left to fend for themselves.

Many cannot manage, according to a new study of roughly 600 former foster kids in the Midwest. By their mid-20s, only half were employed and a paltry 6 percent had completed college. More than a third had been homeless or forced to move from place to place.

The study advocates a common sense solution: letting kids stay in foster care until the age of 21. States can get federal matching funds to do it, but few have chosen to pony up the cash.

That seems short-sighted. Nearly 30,000 kids leave foster care every year. If they don't succeed, taxpayers will pay a much higher price -- and so will the kids themselves. Turning 18 should be a day to celebrate... not a deadline to dread.

That's a page from my notebook.

I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.