A Unique Program
Fortunately, we are living in a time when the plight of young adults aging out of foster care is becoming more well-known and attended to. Extended foster care programs are starting up across the country, allowing older youth in foster care to have extra time to prepare for independent living.
Here at Finally Family Homes, we’ve looked into several foster care transition programs across the nation as we work to help youth aging out of foster care. With the help of many advisers including the kindness of other successful program administrators, we’ve put together a unique approach for reaching aging out foster youth in our area.
We call it Life Launch.
A Club Helping Young Adults Succeed
At first, we thought about calling it a Life after Foster Care Club or Life Skills
Our research indicates that, like all young adults, they want to be part of the larger community. They also want to be part of something fun. “Life Skills Classes” while helpful, sound boring. And for young adults finishing high school or going to college, adding another “class” might sound like too much.
Instead, we’ve decided to open up the group to any young adults 17-21. We believe the speakers that we bring in will benefit all youth who are trying to navigate the transition from childhood to independent adulthood. Not only this, but opening it up to other youth allows foster brothers and sisters, friends, or future friends of foster youth to attend and connect.
Life Launch is for all who are ready to launch into adulthood with the skills and tools needed to succeed.Life Launch is for all who are ready to launch into adulthood with the skills and tools needed to succeed. #lifelaunch #FinallyFamilyHomes Click To Tweet
We know that many youths in need do not have access to healthy meals, so we have arranged to have dinner provided every week. Young adults who may be intimidated by the thought of participating, may stretch their comfort level and attend if they know they will not go to bed hungry. Plus, we all know the marketing power of the words, “Free Food!”
Transportation to and From the Program Location
One of the biggest struggles for young adults who age out of foster care is getting access to transportation. It’s known to be one of the top reasons young adults don’t attend foster care transition programs. The Los Angeles area is known to be particularly difficult to navigate for anyone who doesn’t have a vehicle.
There aren’t any national statistics pointing to exactly how many young adults from foster care get their driver’s licenses before they turn 18. Advocates anecdotally report that very few, or none, of the young adults they speak to have accomplished securing a license. One report indicated only about 2-3% of foster youth in Florida have their driver’s license by 18 years of age. This is very few compared to 62% of the general population.
As such our program plan incorporates safe rides to and from our Life Launch program site as funding allows. We are seeking assistance from the community and have applied for grants from Uber & Lyft to support this effort to get around the transportation barrier.
Young Adults Can Join Anytime
Our program is unique in that youth can join at anytime during the year. They can participate as they learn about the program and become eligible or comfortable enough to attend. Need to miss a week? No problem. We’ll have a meeting every week, all year ‘round, knowing that many
We believe offering this program with an open door, no strings attached, is the best way to support young adults who are transitioning out of the foster care system. It’s important to us that our foster care transition program doesn’t create additional barriers by putting extra demands on a population that is already exhausted. If they don’t want to come back, it’s on us to make the program more inviting."We believe offering this program with an open door, no strings attached, is the best way to support young adults who are transitioning out of the foster care system. " #FinallyFamilyHomes Click To Tweet
Coming Alongside, Not Reaching Down
One of the other benefits of opening Life Launch to all young adults 17-21 years old is that it creates opportunities for the youth to socialize with peers from other backgrounds. Even the older leadership at Life Launch is not coming as “experts” but as supports alongside those who attend. Another benefit of eating together is that we all have an informal time to talk and build relationships over dinner.
We are fortunate to have a long list of incredibly talented, educated, and well-known speakers. These wonderful people are donating their time, expertise, and in some cases goods to Finally Family Homes. They will teach life skills to young adults who attend. The volunteers for Life Launch, are also looking forward to learning the fantastic tips, techniques, and recipes for success from our guest speakers.
Strategically Planned Topics
To us, “just getting by” isn’t enough. We aim to launch our youth into adulthood with an edge. Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the focus of our work includes empowering youth to best take care of their own basic needs (food and shelter), safety, security, personal growth, and achievement. Additionally, sessions that focus on building financial security will be taught using the Annie E Casey Foundation’s evidence-based curriculum, “Keys to your Financial Future.”
Being successful in helping those who come to our foster care transition program means increasing participant confidence, self-esteem, and problem-solving skills. We’ve put strategies into place for Life Launch to build connection and inclusiveness. Ideally, each participant becomes (and feels like) a valued member of the club.
Did we mention all of this is FREE for participants?
We know many young adults are under-prepared for independence at 18, and usually the ones who need it most, are short on funds. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, volunteers, and the support of Valencia Hills Community Church, this program is made available at no cost to all youth 17-21 years old who desire to be better equipped to build and maintain strategic skills for safe and healthy independent living.
We are dedicated to breaking down every barrier that would keep these young adults from success.
We believe that the real to key to success is connecting these youth to those who care enough to get involved. So many hands and hearts have come together to bring this program to life – not just in the Santa Clarita community, but across the nation!
What exactly becomes of Life Launch in the coming year is, of course, up to God. What we do know is that by offering this resource, these young adults, who have often felt overlooked, might feel noticed. By providing food, water, company, and guidance you join in living out the love and righteousness of Christ who said,
“Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me in.” Matthew 25:34-35 (WEB)
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We hope that Life Launch will turn into one of the most successful foster care transition programs out there.
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