In most states, when a child in foster care turns 18 and graduates from high school, the state pulls funding; rendering that student homeless, and, in many cases, hopeless. Only 50% of kids who age out are reunited with their family of origin. That means half of them abruptly face the fact that they have no family at all. This is a very sad but true reality in our country. While programs like Blavin Scholars can help put some kids on track to succeed in life, the single most important thing we can do as a society is help give these kids a family. Here are two important ways we can help provide families for these at-risk youths:
Support Foster Families so They Can Continue Care
If foster care families had more support from the community, they might be more likely to continue care past the age of eighteen. Often they are housing multiple foster kids of various ages; many of whom have emotional and developmental problems. You could lend support in many ways – babysitting, running errands, helping with household tasks or tutoring. Look for any way to help support foster care families in your community.
Help Advocate for Raising the Emancipation Age to 21
The truth is no one is ready to be completely on their own at the age of eighteen. Even at 21 most young people are not ready to be fully self-sufficient. Be a voice in your own state for raising the emancipation age and giving these young people a chance at a good life. Visit the National Conference of State Legislatures to find out more about how you can help.
When all else fails, there is one other way you can help – by becoming a mentor. As a mentor you can help provide much-needed support, stability and encouragement to kids who are in this transitional period in life. Mentorship can have a tremendous impact on outcomes for post foster-care youth. One of the most important aspects of our Blavin Scholars program is the emphasis on mentorship and support because we know it’s critical to their success. Contact your state foster care agency to find out how you can help.