It’s rare that I have anybody other than bloggers guest post here on my blog. I have to feel very passionate about something to allow a brand or business to share their own words. When Aspiranet reached out to me about helping them spread the word about foster care for older youth, my heart hurt when I realized how many older kids don’t have families, a hot meal, love, or a place to call home.
If you are or have ever considered helping a child through foster care, please take a few minutes to read what Aspiranet wants us to know about foster care for older kids. And please help spread the word!
Foster Care and Aspiranet
When you hear the word foster care what image comes to mind? For most, it’s usually babies and young children who are in need of homes. While that is true for some of the 62,000 children in foster care in California, several thousand youth who enter the foster care system are teens, or begin as a young child and never become adopted before turning 18 when they “age out” of the system.
Like young children, teenage foster youth are also in need of loving families, a roof over their heads, stability and mentors who can guide them through their transition into adulthood. Most young adults have parents who will support them during this time in their lives, whether it is helping them open a checking account, applying for their first job, or driving them off to college with a car full of necessities. However, for many in foster care, the scenario can be dramatically different.
In California, about 5,000 foster youth turn 18 each year, thereby marking a transition in which they must begin to prepare to leave the foster care system by age 21 with full self-sufficiency. Studies have shown that this group of young adults is faced with greater risk of unemployment, homelessness, unplanned pregnancies, mental illness, and involvement with the criminal justice system. Aspiranet, a leading human services agency of California for more than 40 years, understands that most 18-21 year olds are not ready to fully live on their own. Many young adults continue to need support after leaving foster care, particularly around housing.
Thankfully, since the passage of AB 12, The California Fostering Connections to Success Act, which was signed in 2010, Aspiranet and other agencies are now able to extend transitional foster care services to eligible youth between 18 and 21 years of age. According to a John Burton Foundation 2015 report, the Transitional Housing Placement Plus Foster Care (THP + FC) Program was created through the passage of AB-12, providing participants with safe, affordable housing and supportive services, as well as court oversight and child welfare supervision. Since the program was introduced in 2012, 52 counties in California now offer THP+FC services for youth, providing care for more than 1,400 to date.
Aspiranet has long been a proponent of transitional foster care and is dedicated to providing foster youth with a continuum of programs and services so that they can enter adulthood armed with the skills and confidence they need to succeed. Through Aspiranet’s Extended Foster Care and THP-Plus Foster Care Programs, this innovative human services agency is able to give foster youth a bridge of support and the platform they need to fulfill their educational and professional goals.
The program provides transitional age youth throughout California with a safe living environment with the option to live in a foster home that promotes independent living for young adults, or in an apartment with supervision and support. In addition, young adults in the program also receive services to provide for basic needs, emotional support, job attainment and education goals.
“As a provider of Transitional Age Youth Services, the funding we receive allows us to meet the basic needs of foster youth,” explains Jeannie Imelio, Executive Director for Aspiranet. “However, Aspiranet is always in need of foster parents to serve as mentors to young adults, or donations from the public, such as new or lightly used furniture and household items to further provide enriched opportunities. Additional support from the public helps to create a warm, safe, and well-equipped space for them to start their adult life.”
Take the first step to creating a lifelong connection with a foster child. Talk with one of our family recruiters at 877.380.4376 or visit AspiranetHeroes.org.
This post was written in partnership with Aspiranet. All opinions and ideas expressed are my own.