At first glance aging out of foster care appears to be a welcome relief for former foster youth. Often, children come into foster care under stressful situations, and the assumption is their trauma continues the longer they stay in the foster care system, away from their parents and family. Unfortunately, a number of former foster youth are never able to reunite with their families, essentially leaving them alone in the world. These youth leaving the foster care system—whether they eagerly awaited it or not—face more challenges than their peers, further traumatizing them, creating hurdles in their lives that act as barriers to long term success.
They are more likely than their peers to be homeless, face drug dependency, experience teenage pregnancy, become jobless, or end up incarcerated.
You can help.
In very simple and practical ways, you can help a former foster youth transition into adulthood safely, improving their chances of achieving longtime success.
10 Ways to Support and Impact the Lives of Former Foster Youth
- Mentor. Contact a local foster agency and volunteer to help mentor a teen. This is a great way to be a caring adult in a teen’s life.
- Teach financial skills. Offer to teach financial literacy to teens, making sure they know how to open a bank account, manage a budget, and learn financial maturity.
- Donate clothes. Often, teens looking to start work lack professional or work attire. Donating clothes or gift cards to buy work clothes can help them get enter and stay in the workforce.
- Offer College/financial aid help. Many teens may not know how to file for financial aid, or even apply to college—offer to help them with deadlines, reading submission essays, and sending out applications.
- Hire a foster teen. If you own your own business, hiring a current or former foster teen can provide great help to them financially, as well as give them the opportunity to learn marketable skills.
- Teach food literacy. Take a youth grocery shopping with you, teaching them how to read labels, and then teach them how to cook a healthy meal.
- Donate furniture and household goods. Contact local foster care agencies to donate items of need.
- Donate school supplies or create a book fund. Former foster youth entering school will need books and supplies, offer to help.
- Help with transportation. Transportation is often a big hurdle for young adults striving to work and/or go to school. Offer to help drive them or give them bus tokens.
- Be present, be a friend. Often former foster youth need a consistent, loving adult in their lives to provide emotional support. Your presence will help them regain trust in others, as well as help them learn how to build meaningful relationships.
We know the statistics are rough to hear and face. However, imagine the life our former foster youth are facing daily. Your willingness to be present and support a former foster youth will change their life.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
To learn more information about how Walden supports former foster youth, please visit our Transitional Housing Placement program.
To learn more about the challenges former foster youth face, please read our post: The 18th Year: Challenges for Youth Aging out of Foster Care.
To offer financial support, please visit our donate page