For a young person about to transition out of the foster care system, the future can be daunting.
CASA of Central Oregon has implemented into its advocate training program Fostering Futures: Supporting Youth Transitions into Adulthood. Fostering Futures engages CASA volunteers as advocates for and advisors to foster youth ages 14-21. The program is built around the framework of the Fostering Connections to Success Act, to help youth identify supportive, lifelong adult connections and to develop specific plans for their transition to become independent, successful adults.
According to Casey Family Programs, about 25,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 21 must leave foster care each year. These young people have experienced maltreatment and lived with instability. They are often ill prepared to suddenly live independently and figure out on their own how to do what the foster care system was set up to do for them—feed, clothe and house them. Aging out of foster care without a permanent home is the highest-risk outcome for a foster youth.
“The statistics are staggering,” says CASA of Central Oregon Executive Director Jenna App. “Foster children aging out of the system have a greater likelihood of dropping out of high school, being unemployed, and ending up homeless. With the Fostering Futures program, we have the opportunity to help them develop the tools they’ll need to become thriving adults.”
"I aged out of foster care with no official, legal connections to anyone. I knew a lot of people, but now that they didn't get checks to care for or about me anymore, I quit going to them. I don't know whether they would have welcomed my calls or not, I didn't even try to reach out because I didn't think I could handle it if they turned me away. There were reminders everyday that I didn't belong to anybody--I put "none" on all the college and financial forms that asked for permanent address. I put "none" on the bank forms that asked for my mother's maiden name. I put "none" on the work form that asked for emergency contact or next-of-kin. I became obsessed with the idea that if I died, there would be nobody with a responsibility to make sure I had a casket and a place to be buried. It doesn't get much lonelier than that."
--Anonymous former foster child
Exerpt from "Flux," part of the Fostering Futures Curriculum