Posted: Oct 17, 2012 at 10:09 PM [Oct 17, 2012]
Even with concerned parents and a strong support system, not all young adults are completely prepared for an independent life at the age of 18...or even at 21. So imagine the hardships that young adults in the foster care system face as they try to prepare themselves for a normal, productive life. They typically have no one to cheer them on when things get tough, no one to help them fill out college applications, no one to give them advice on how to interview for a job or talk to a coworker, no one to show them how to shop for groceries or do laundry. Financial support from the state abruptly ends at the age of 21, whether they are prepared or not. It's a sink or swim situation, and unfortunately, most of them sink.
• Only 58% of youth who have left the foster care system had a high school degree at age 19 compared with 87% of a national comparison group of non-foster youth.
• Of foster care youth who are over the age of 25, fewer than 3% earned their college degrees, compared with 28% of the general population.
• About one in five former foster care youth were homeless for one or more nights within a year after leaving foster care.
• The unemployment rate among youth who left foster care was 47% (Chapin Hall Midwest Study).
• About 25% of former foster care youth experience post traumatic stress (Northwest Foster Care Alumni Survey). This is nearly five times that of the general population and exceeded the rates for American war veterans.
• One in four youth who have left foster care will be incarcerated within the first two years after they leave the system.
• Thirty percent of youth participating in the Midwest Study reported being arrested; 15% reported being convicted of a crime; and 29% reported being incarcerated (Chapin Hall Midwest Study).
Our House is a new non-profit organization that fills a void for foster care youth who are in danger of aging out (turning 21) by providing mentoring and semi-independent living programs. Young adults in the foster care system, usually from 14 – 21 years of age, are partnered with a mentor, or life guide, who meets with them regularly to provide much-needed support and consistency in their lives. Our House also provides a peer mentor for each group – a former foster care youth who can model success and relate to a foster youth's experiences. All Our House members also gather each month to learn important life skills – topics like financial planning, car-buying basics, interpersonal communications, and household budgeting, are taught by professionals from the community.
Our House is always looking for caring mentors and peer mentors who can commit a few hours a month to offer support and serve as a sounding-board in the often chaotic world of a foster care youth. The ultimate goal is to provide these young adults with the skills and support they need to become confident, productive, and successful adults. Help change a life.
Just click on www.OurHousemi.org for more information about becoming a mentor or making a donation to Our House.